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Language Acquisition

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  1. Language Acquisition Nov 24, 2008

  2. L1 Language Acquisition How can we research child language acquisition? • Observations • Surveys/interviews • Corpora • Experimental a. pre linguistic b. post linguistic

  3. Getting subjects. . . Usually easy to get college aged students . . . Harder to get infants/children • BYU daycare (or other organizations) • Wards/friends • Birth announcements • Schools

  4. How is getting data from children/infants different from getting data from adults? • Can’t always tell you what they are thinking • Lots of attrition (they get bored, tired, scared) • Parental permission, IRB • You have to entertain them more than adults • You have to provide incentives more than adults • They may lie (a lot)

  5. Heart rate (pre-natal) High amplitude sucking/foot kicking Preferential looking Conditioned head turn 2 alternative anticipatory eye movement response Experimental techniques to test pre-linguistic infants

  6. Why would you study pre linguistic infants?! Stages of L1 language acquisition: • Prenatal (especially last trimester) • Crying (0-2 months) • Intonational (2-3 months) • Cooing (4-6 months) • Babbling (6-8 months) • Non-reduplicated babbling (9-12 months) • First words (12-18 months) How well infants discriminate sounds predicts their abilities to learn words—their ability to learn words predicts overall language and reading abilities later on

  7. 1. Heart Rate Typical set up: Mother or Father asked to read story, talk to, or other language task for 3-4 weeks in 3rd Trimester Mother comes to lab and is hooked up to fetal heart rate monitor Same and different stories are played to baby and measure heart rate

  8. 1. Heart Rate Basic findings . . . Recognition of mother’s voice (Mehler et al., 1984) Recognition of prose passage before birth (DeCasper et al. 1994) Recognition of native language after birth (Mehler et al., 1986) Recognition of difference between male/female voices (DeCasper et al., 2002)

  9. 1. Heart Rate Pros? Only way to measure prenatal language Fairly unintrusive Cons? Don’t know for sure that this is best way to measure language skills prenatally

  10. 2. High Amplitude Sucking http://psych.rice.edu/mmtbn/language/sPerception/infantsucking_h.htm l

  11. 2. High Amplitude Sucking Basic Findings . . . have found for most types of consonants

  12. 2. High Amplitude Sucking Pros? High level of reliability (used a lot for a long time) Fairly unintrusive Only way to test newborns Cons? High dropout rate Need equipment

  13. 3. Preferential looking http://psych.rice.edu/mmtbn/language/sPerception/infantHeadturn_h.html

  14. 3. Preferential looking Some findings . . . Preferences for • Mother’s voice at 3 weeks (DeCasper & Fifer, 1980) • Own-language prosody at 6 months • Own language stress pattern at 9 months (Jusczyk et al, 1993) • Own language phonology at 9 months (Juscyzk et al., 1993) • Own language phonotactics at 9 months (Juscyzk et al., 1994)

  15. 3. Preferential looking Pros? Can test lots of things (even up to 2-3 years) Easy to administer Cons? Requires complicated equipment

  16. 4. Conditioned head turn http://beta.vtap.com/video/Learning+From+Babies/CL0173196706_4078e8f9a_V0lLSTE4NjE0fmluOjM4

  17. 4. Conditioned head turn Some typical findings . . .

  18. 4. Conditioned head turn Pros? Works well with testing sound discrimination Easy to administer Cons? Only works with testing discrimination

  19. 5. Two alternative response • http://psych.rice.edu/mmtbn/language/sPerception/infantlooking_h.html

  20. 5. Two alternative response some findings . . . Babies associate highly frequent words with familiar objects by 6 months (Jusczyk, 1999) 8-10 month olds can tell the difference between passive and active sentences and transitive and intransitive verbs (Fisher, 2003)

  21. * * “look! cookie monster’s tickling big bird” “look! big bird’s tickling cookie monster” see also Naigles (1990), Fisher (2000) Golinkoff et al. 1987

  22. 4. Two alternative response Pros? Works well with almost any type of language Cons? Difficult to administer—works best with 18-24 year olds

  23. L1 Acquisition—12 -36 months

  24. Stages of First Language Acquisition—12 months on • Holophrastic stage 12-24 months • idiomorphs • mutual exclusivity and whole object bias • overgeneralizations, undergeneralizations • referential vs. expressive children • Two-word Stage—24-30 months • Subject-verb ‘Mary go.’ • Verb-modifier ‘Push truck.’ • Possessor-possesed ‘Mommy sock’ • Content words, no function words • Telegraphic Stage—30-36 months • 2-5 words with little extra morphology • Morphological overgeneralization • Easier, more productive morphemes first

  25. Basic methods for studying children post linguistically • Observations • Wug tests • ERPs (Event related potentials) • Experimental trickery

  26. 1. Observations Many of these studies done in 1950’s – 70’s Usually linguists or psychologists would follow own children around with tape recorder and analyze their language development

  27. 1. Observations At 1 year; 1 month (babbling) (in IPA): Production Production /ava/ /baewa/ /aelu/ /daevu/ /aw/ /gigi/ /n/ /paba/ At 1 year, 6 months: Gloss Production Gloss Production baby /bebi/ go /go/ bear /baeu/ big /gIg/ bib /bIb/ Brenda /pEnt/ blue /pu/ walk /wak/

  28. M: Did you tell Daddy what you had for tea? N: aga (eggs) and gagadoodoodoo (cockadoodledoo = cornflakes [because of the picture on the box] cockadoodledoo also means a weathervane on a church spire and so he remembers his walk as well) tika (sticks) too. M: You didn’t have cornflakes for tea! And you didn’t have sticks either! N: ho (holes) too. (laughing—thinking this is a joke) M: You didn’t have sticks and holes for tea! N: doba (toast) Go wakin’, dada. (“I went walking, daddy”) F: What did you see on your walk? N: see ka (“I saw a car”) F: Yes, you went for a ride in a car, didn’t you? What else did you see? N: piti dedi mamma on gara (“a pretty flower (daisy) for momma in the garden”). [The flower wasn’t a daisy, but he calls all flowers daisies] (Parents get N. ready for bed) N: Help? Need help? (meaning “I need help). M: What is it you can’t find? Is it something under there? N, looking under couch: ba (“a ball”) (Later, looking at a book with his mother) N: ‘ats dat? (“What’s that?) M: That’s butter. N: (repeating) taba (butter) ‘ats dat? (“What’s that?”) M: Some ducks and a doggie. N: Sa kuks (“some ducks”) No goggie (but there isn’t a doggie)

  29. 1. Observations Basic findings:

  30. Language Development: Stages and Rule Systems • Brown’s (1973) Stages Mean Length of Utterance is a good index of child’s language maturity. Stages indicate growth of language complexity. Stage 1 - 12 to 26 months of age = MLU 1.00 to 2.00 Stage 2 - 27 to 30 months of age = MLU 2.00 to 2.50 Stage 3 - 31 to 34 months of age = MLU 2.50 to 3.00 Stage 4 - 35 to 40 months of age = MLU 3.00 to 3.75 Stage 5 - 41 to 46 months of age = MLU 3.75 to 4.50

  31. Irregular past-tense Rules governing the use of irregulars follow a developmental U-shaped curve • went men worst • goed mans baddest • wented mens worstest • went men worst

  32. Irregular past-tense Developmental U-shaped curve • Developmental U-shaped curve Proportion correct Time

  33. 2. Wug Studies http://www.maccs.mq.edu.au/~gtesan/AcquisitionMq/videos/Berkosexp.mov

  34. 2. Wug Studies

  35. 2. Wug Studies

  36. 2. Wug Studies

  37. 3. ERPs Attach hat to babies head Hat has electrodes that measure Electrical movement across the Skull Electrical movement tells us • What part of the brain is activated • When the brain reacts to the stimulus and how much it reacts

  38. 3. ERPs Basic findings . . .

  39. Stages of First Language Acquisition • Telegraphic Stage—2-5 years • learning 20-30 words per day • more complex syntax • Fine-tuning--5-10 yrs. • refining grammar • building vocabulary

  40. 4. Experimental Trickery • http://www.maccs.mq.edu.au/~gtesan/AcquisitionMq/videos/MedialWHquestions.mov