LANGUAGE
What is it? (TRADITIONAL VIEW)
 communication that uses SYMBOLS
(words stand for things, actions, ideas)
 Allows us to convey MEANING of information
about things that are…
– NOT PRESENTLY IN FRONT OF US
– OR ARE “ABSTRACT.”

Language also seems to affect how we think,
reason, and relate
 SPEECH = is SPOKEN language
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What are the basic cognitive skills of infants?
LANGUAGE
Where does it come from?

GENETIC? IN BORN? “LANGUAGE
ACQUISITION DEVICE”? ---- Chomsky
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LEARNED? IMITATION? SHAPED BY
PARENT FEEDBACK? ----- Skinner
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Language Milestones (Norms)
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The “Structure” of Language
5 major components (“structures”) of language :
1. PHONOLOGY
2. MORPHOLOGY
3. SYNTAX
4. SEMANTICS
5. PRAGMATICS
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“Structure” of Language
PHONOLOGY

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study of language sounds
Language sounds called PHONEMES
human voice can produce about 150 phonemes
English uses 44 phonemes (ex. ee, oo, th, s, g, etc.)
phonemes are either VOICED or NON-VOICED
sounds
Maturation needed in vocal areas of mouth/throat before
babies can produce the sounds very well
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CATEGORICAL
PERCEPTION

Says that infants have innate ability to respond
differentially to different speech sounds (phonemes),
even if they are not in their native language
 However, with experience in a given language, some
of these discriminations disappear if not used
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“Structure” of Language
MORPHOLOGY
 Is study of word construction rules
 Root words (ex. bat, rake) and their prefixes (im, non,
un, etc.) and suffixes (ing, s, ed, ive, etc.)are called
MORPHEMES.
 Young kids generally mess up these word construction
rules (ex. foots, sheeps, falled, goed, wented)
 These morpheme “mess ups” are called
OVERREGULARIZATIONS
 Chomsky said these overregularizations “prove” we
have language rules built-in at birth. Any contrary
arguments to this?
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“Structure” of Language
SYNTAX
 Is study of word arrangements and
combinations to form sentences
 SURFACE STRUCTURE = all the possible “allowable”
word combinations for a sentence
 Ex) “Johnny hit the ball.” (ACTIVE surface structure)
 Ex) “The ball was hit by Johnny.” (PASSIVE structure)

DEEP STRUCTURE = the underlying meaning of the
sentence
 Passive surface structures make it more difficult to
understand the deep structure than active surface
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structures
“Structure” of Language
More on SYNTAX
 DEEP STRUCTURE
 the infant’s understanding can be tested in a
clever way:
 Golinkoff and colleagues presented two video
images to babies and recorded which image was
looked at more
 The “cue” was either
– “Big Bird is tickling Cookie Monster.” OR
– “Big Bird is being tickled by Cookie Monster.”
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“Structure” of Language
SEMANTICS

study of how words acquire their meaning
 That is, how do we learn that the word BANANA
refers to that fruit? ASSOCIATIVE
LEARNING!!
 RECEPTIVE comprehension always occurs
before EXPRESSIVE
 NOUN learning always precedes VERBS, then
come ADJECTIVES, then ADVERBS.
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“Structure” of Language
PRAGMATICS

study of how language use is adjusted to suit the
situation to better convey our meaning
Ex.) “Hey, Dude” vs. “Dear Sir”
 Includes changes in syntax, vocabulary, intonation
(prosody), and “wordiness.”
 PARENTESE = how parents adjust language for
kids
(see more on next slide)
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“Structure” of Language
“PARENTESE”
Parents change the way they talk when the recipient
is a child!
Time to
 Slower, clearer, pronunciation emphasis
go home!
 Simpler word forms (“choo-choo”)
 Simplified grammar
 Expansion of infant utterances
 Repetitive
 Use higher pitched voice
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