Language Development

The four components of language:

-phonology: the sound system

-semantics: meaning

-syntax: structure

-pragmatics: when, where, and how

Is language exclusively human?

Theories of language acquisition:

-Learning (behaviorist): reinforcement and imitation

-Nativism: genetically predetermined, "hard-wired"
neurological structure for language acquisition

-Interactionism: a combination of brain maturation and
socio-cognitive interations

Factors influencing language acquisition

-Adult language to children: "motherese" ("parentese")

-expansion and recasting

-increased communicational experience and observation

-direct teaching of language skills

Course of language development:

Prelinguistic development:

-at birth, very wide range of phonemes

-gradually learn characteristics of native tongue

-babbling & gesturing

Phonological development:

-simplifications to ease pronunciation

-vocal tract not fully developed until late childhood; pronunciation a bit off throughout childhood

Semantic development:

-very rapid increase in vocabulary with comprehension leading production

-under- and over-extension

-fast mapping & syntactic bootstrapping

Grammatical development:

-telegraphic speech

-rapid increase in complexity

-over-regularization of grammatical morphemes


Pragmatic development

-conversational strategies (turnabout, shading)

-illocutionary intent: reading between the lines

-referential skills: clarity