LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
by Don L. F. Nilsen
and Alleen Pace Nilsen
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Youtube Babies:
Charlie Bit My Finger Again:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OBlgSz8sSM
Evil-Eye Baby:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=evil+eye+baby&search_ty
pe=&aq=0&oq=evil+
Funny Baby Blood:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9WmKre5O2I
The Marshmallow Test:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWW1vpz1ybo
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LANGUAGE STAGES
Stage:
Crying
Cooing
Babbling
Intonation
Holophrastic
Pivot-Open
Word Inflections
Questions & Negatives
Rare & Complex Lg
Mature Speech
Age:
Birth
6 Weeks
6 Months
8 Months
1 Year
18 Months
2 Years
2 ½ Years
5 Years
10 Years
(Aitchison 570)
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CARETAKER SPEECH
Simplified Vocabulary
Simplified Phonology
Exaggerated Pitch & Intonation
Many Questions by Mothers
Many Imperatives by Fathers
Baby-Talk Words
e.g. wawa, choo-choo, tummy, scambled eggs, pasghetti
(Moskowitz 534)
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ACQUISITION OF SOUNDS
Properties of easy sounds:
Front of the Mouth
Total Articulation
Muscles already Developed (in Nursing)
Easy Sounds: /m, p, b, t, d/
Hard Sounds: /ŋ, Θ, ð, š, r, l/ clusters
Easy sounds occur in more languages and are learned earlier by
children.
(Fromkin, Rodman & Hyams [2011] 333-335)
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ACQUISITION OF WORDS
vov-vov
dog
for dogs, kittens, hens, zoo animals
mooi
moon
for moon, cake <O> anything round
dany
bell sound
for bell, clock, telephone, doorbell
quack
duck sound
ducks, birds, insects, coins (because a coin had an eagle on it)
koko
rooster crowing
rooster, merry-go-round, musical sounds, all sounds
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 335-336)
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[?aw] “not,” “no,” “don’t”
[s:] “aerosol spray”
[b^?]/[m^?] “up”
[sju:] “shoe”
[da] “dog”
[haj] “hi”
[i?o]/[si?o] “Cheerios”
[sr] “shirt” “sweater”
[sa] “sock”
[sæ:]/[esæ:] “what’s that?”
[aj]/[^j] “light”
[ma] “mommy”
[baw]/[daw] “down”
[dæ] “daddy”
(J.P. at 16 months)
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 336)
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[pun] “spoon”
[majtl] “Michael”
[peyn] “plane”
[dajt-r] “diaper”
[tIs] “kiss”
[pati] “Papi”
[taw] “cow”
[mani] “Momy”
[tin] “clean”
[b-rt] “Bert”
[pol-r] “stroller”
[b-rt] “Big Bird”
(- is schwa)
(Michael from 18-21 months)
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 341)
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Michael systematically substituted the alveolar stop [t]
for the velar stop [k] as in his words for “cow,”
“clean,” “kiss,” and his own name.
He also replaced labial [p] with [t] when it occurred in
the middle of a word, as in his words for “Papi” and
“diaper.”
He reduced consonant clusters in “spoon,” “plane,”
and “stroller,” and he devoiced final stops as in “Big
Bird.”
In devoicing the final [d] in “bird,” he created an
ambiguous form [b-rt] referring both to Bert and Big
Bird.
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 341)
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“Michael’s substitutions are typical of the
phonological rules that operate in the
very early stages of acquisition.”
“Other common rules are reduplication—
’bottle’ becomes [baba], ‘water’ becomes
[wawa]; and the dropping of a final
consonant—’bed’ becomes [be], ‘cake’
becomes ke]. These two rules show that
the child prefers a simple CV syllable.”
(Fromkin, Rodman & Hyams [2011] 341)
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[dot] “don’t”
[th ap] “stop”
[kh Ip] “skip”
[kIdi] “kitty”
[su] “shoe”
[wajt] “light”
[dæt] “that”
[dawi] “dolly”
[ph e] “play”
[go] “grow”
[d^p] “thump”
([ph ] [th ] [kh ] are aspirated [p]
[t] and [k] respectively)
[bæt] “bath”
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 371)
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ACQUISITION OF GRAMMAR
Holophrastic (one part of speech)
Pivot-Open (two parts of speech)
Telegraphic (four parts of speech)
Adult (eight parts of speech)
Linguist (each part of speech has many subcategories)
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THREE STAGES OF ACQUISITION OF
MORPHOLOGY
1. Holophrastic: men, went, broke, brought
Right Answer, but Wrong Reason
2. Rule-Governed: mans, goed, breaked, bringed
Wrong Answer, but Right Reason
3. Knowledge of both Rules and Exceptions to the Rules: men,
went, broke, brought
Right Answer, and Right Reason
NOTE: These stages also operate for adults learning a new
profession
(Moskowitz 533)
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 336, 370-371)
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WHAT WOULD A CHILD SAY?
children
brought
worst
went
sang
knives
better
geese
worse
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 371)
best
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GRAMMAR: TWO-WORD STAGE
The two-word stage is also called the Pivot-Open stage
because one of the words is usually a Lexical Word
(an open set that refers to something), and the other
word is a Functional Word (a closed set with
grammatical rather than reference meaning).
In the following sentences, indicate which is the Pivot
word and which is the Open word:
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Allgone sock.
Hi Mommy.
Byebye boat.
Allgone sticky.
More wet.
It ball.
Katherine Sock.
Dirty sock.
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2007] 333)
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See boy
Push it.
See soci.
Move it.
Pretty boat.
Mommy sleep.
Pretty fan.
Bye-bye melon.
More taxi.
Bye-bye hot.
More melon.
(Adam, Eve, and Sarah)
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 369-370)
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M. L. U.
As children progress from the holophrastic to the
pivot-open to the telegraphic to the mature stages of
language development, a simple but effective gauge
of their level of development is MLU.
MLU means “Mean Length of Utterance.” “MLU is the
average length of the utterances the child is
producing at a particular point.”
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 347)
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TELEGRAPHIC SPEECH
During this stage of development, the
functional categories like Determiners,
Auxiliaries, Prepositions, Conjunctions and
Expletives are missing.
And the Lexical categories like Nouns, Verbs,
Adjectives, and Adverbs (usually without any
suffixes) are present.
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Cat stand up table.
What that?
He play little tune.
Andrew want that.
Cathy build house.
No sit there.
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 347)
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ACQUISITION OF MORPHOLOGY
AGE 2:
Progressive –ing:
I singing.
Plural –s:
blue shoes.
Copula am, is, are:
He is asleep.
Articles a, the:
He is a doctor.
(Aitchison 574)
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ACQUISITION OF MORPHOLOGY 2
AGE 3:
Third Person Singular –s:
He wants an apple
Past tense –d:
I helped Mummy
Full Progressive be + -ing:
I am singing
Shortened Copula:
He’s a doctor
Shortened Progressive:
I’m singing
(Aitchison 574)
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CHILD: Nobody don’t like me.
MOTHER: No, say “Nobody likes me.”
CHILD: Nobody don’t like me.
(dialogue repeated eight times)
MOTHER: Now, listen carefully, say
“Nobody likes me.”
CHILD: Oh, nobody don’t likes me.
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 326)
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ADULT: What does [maws] mean?
CHILD: Like a cat.
ADULT: Yes, What else?
CHILD: Nothing else.
ADULT: It’s part of your head.
CHILD: [fascinated]
ADULT: [touching child’s mouth] What’s this?
CHILD: [maws]
(Neil Smith talking to 2-year-old Amahl)
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2007] 327)
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CHILDREN’S METAPHORS
Don’t giggle me.
I danced the clown.
Yawny Baby—you can push her mouth open to drink her.
Who deaded my kitty cat?
Are you gonna nice yourself?
CF: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2007] 361)
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“WUG” AS A NOUN
Make it plural.
Make it possessive.
Make it plural and possessive.
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 343-344)
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“WUG” AS A VERB
Put it after “he” in a sentence.
Make it past tense.
Make it a past participle.
Make it a present participle.
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 343-344)
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“WUG” AS AN ADJECTIVE OR
ADVERB
Make it comparative.
Make it superlative.
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 343-344)
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ACQUISITION OF NEGATIVES
Stage One: “No you catch me.”
Stage Two: “You didn’t caught me.”
Stage Three: “You didn’t catch me.”
(Moskowitz 547)
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ACQUISITION OF WH-QUESTIONS
STAGE ONE:
What Mummy doing?
Why you singing?
Where daddy go?
STAGE TWO:
Where you will go?
Why kitty can’t see?
Why you don’t know?
STAGE THREE:
Where will you go?
Why can’t kitty see?
Why don’t you know?
(Aitchison, 575)
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CHILD: Want other one spoon, Daddy.
FATHER: You mean, you want the other spoon.
CHILD: Yes, I want the other one spoon, please Daddy.
FATHER: Can you say, “the other spoon”?
CHILD: Other … one … spoon.
FATHER: Say “other.”
CHILD: Other.
FATHER: Spoon
CHILD: Spoon
FATHER: Other spoon.
CHILD: Other … spoon. Now give me other
one spoon?
(Aitchison, 565)(Braine, 161)
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 327)
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CHILD: My teacher holded the baby rabbits and we patted them.
ADULT: Did you say your teacher held the baby rabbits?
CHILD: Yes
ADULT: What did you say she did?
CHILD: She holded the baby rabbits and we patted them.
ADULT: Did you say she held them tightly?
CHILD: No, she holded them loosely
(Aitchison 566)(Cazden 92)
(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 325)
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EXPLAIN THE FOLLOWING
Self-Directed Louding: Baby’s getting a rash
Rhetorical Questions: Don’t you know I just wiped that off?
Self-Answered Questions: What does the lamb say? Baaa.
Limiting Questions: Do you want chocolate or vanilla?
What is the function of egocentric speech? Do adults use this device?
(Heath 617)
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RESTRICTED AND ELABORATED CODES
In 1971, Basil Bernstein distinguished between local language
(restricted codes) and public language (elaborated codes).
Restricted codes use “he” and “she” instead of “Mom” and “Dad.”
They use back channels like “You know.”
They use tags like “isn’t it.”
They use fewer verbs and adjectives.
They use more slang, fixed expressions, and cliches.
(Bernstein 5)
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ACQUISITION OF HUMOR
Even babies have a sense of humor. Adults
laugh with children who are playing peek-aboo or watching Sesame Street with its Big
Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Young children
are also fond of knock-knock jokes and
riddles.
(Nilsen & Nilsen 9-10)
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TOILET HUMOR
Alvin Schwartz says that children
who are six or seven enjoy toilet
humor because they no longer
have accidents, but they still
remember when they did. They
like the following poem:
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I see London; I see France.
I see Betsy’s underpants.
They aren’t green; they aren’t blue.
They’re just filled with number two.
They also like to talk about the secret parts of
the body:
Mary had a little bear,
The best that she could find.
And everywhere that Mary went,
There was her bare behind.
(Nilsen & Nilsen 11)
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CONSERVATION HUMOR
Paul McGhee told a joke to children of
different ages: “A man goes into a pizza
parlor and tells the server to cut his pizza
into four pieces because he isn’t hungry
enough to eat six pieces.”
1st Graders didn’t laugh because they didn’t
get the joke. They hadn’t yet mastered
conservation.
(Nilsen & Nilsen 10)
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8th Graders didn’t laugh because they had
mastered conservation so long ago that
there was no tension.
The students in the middle grades laughed the
hardest. They experienced pleasure
because they could take pride in the fact that
they were able to figure out that the amount
of pizza was the same regardless of how
many pieces it was cut into.
(Nilsen & Nilsen 10)
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!6 LEVELS OF HUMOR
DEVELOPMENT
In Antony Chapman’s It’s a Funny Thing, Humor, Alice
Sheppard has outlined six levels of humor
development for children:
LEVEL 1 (IDIOSYNCRATIC): Involves amusement
related to a young child’s individual experience as
with a surprise, a physical sensation, or a response
to someone else’s smile or laughter.
(Nilsen & Nilsen 10)
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!LEVEL 2 (NORMATIVE): Involves a generalization
that implies a rule, or a convention. Later, the
child will violate the rule or convention.
LEVEL 3 (EXPECTATION): Involves a reference to
the unusualness or the improbability of an event.
LEVEL 4 (RELATIONAL): Involves concern for inner
motives related to a situation, relations among
events, and multiple aspects of the situation.
(Nilsen & Nilsen 10)
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!!LEVEL 5 (EXTRA-CONTEXTUAL): Involves
context beyond the situation implied in the
notion of parody, take-off, irony, or satire. It
also involves the distinction between
appearance and reality; the humor is revealed
as contingent upon subtle aspects of events.
LEVEL 6 (PHILOSOPHICAL): Involves the ability
to see what is ridiculous in the nature of
things and to generalize an outlook from
humor examples.
(Nilsen & Nilsen 10)
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!!!Summary of Life
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References:
Aitchison, Jean. “Predestinate Grooves: Is There a Preordained
Language `Program’?” (Clark, 560-579).
Bernstein, Basil. Class, Codes and Control: Three Volumes. London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1971-1975.
Braine, M. D. S. “The Acquisition of Language in Infant and Child.” in
The Learning of Language Ed. C. E. Reed. New York, NY:
Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1971.
Cazden, Courtney. Child Language and Education New York, NY:
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972.
Chapman, Antony J., and Hugh C. Foot, eds. Humor and Laughter:
Theory, Research, and Applications. New Brunswick, NJ:
Transaction, 1996.
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Clark, Virginia, Paul Eschholz, and Alfred Rosa. Language:
Readings in Language and Culture, 6th Edition. New York, NY: St.
Martin’s Press, 1998.
Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman, and Nina Hyams. “Language
Acquisition.” An Introduction to Language, 9th Edition. Boston,
MA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2011, 324-374.
Fromkin, Victoria, Stephen Krashen, Susan Curtiss, David Rigler
and Marilyn Rigler. “The Development of Language in Genie: A
Case of Language Acquisition beyond the `Critical Period’”
(Clark, 588-604).
Groch, A. “Joking and Appreciation of Humor in Nursery School
Children.” Child Development 45.4 (1974): 1098-1102.
Heath, Shirley Brice. “Teaching How to Talk in Roadville: The First
Words” (609-625).
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Hyams, Nina. Language Acquisition and the Theory of Parameters. New
York, NY: D. Reidel Publishers, 1986.
Lenneberg, Eric. “Developmental Milestones in Motor and Language
Development (Clark, 556-559).
McGhee, Paul E. How to Develop Your Sense of Humor: An 8-Step Humor
Development Training Program. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 1994.
McGhee, Paul E. Humor and Children’s Development: A Guide to Practical
Applications. New York, NY: Haworth, 1989.
McGhee, Paul E. Humor Log for the 8-Step Humor Development Training
Program. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 1994.
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Miller, George and Patricia Gildea. “How Children
Learn Words” (Clark, 580-587).
Moskowitz, Breyne. “The Acquisition of Language
(Clark, 529-555).
Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. “Acquisition
of a Sense of Humor.” Encyclopedia of 20th Century
American Humor. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000,
9-11.
Pines, Maya. “Genie: A Postscript” (Clark, 605-608).
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