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Language Acquisition


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American Sign Language (ASL):
a complete language, related historically to French, this is the manual language used by the deaf community in the United States.
a generalized communication disorder with varying characteristics depending on the site of the lesion (Damage to the language areas of the brain).
Arcuate Fasciculus:
band of subcortical fibers that connects Wernicke’s area w/ Broca’s area; If u ask someone to repeat what you say, the incoming message is processed in Wernicke’s area and then sent out over the arcuate fasciculus to Broca’s area – conduction aphasia: unable to repeat.
Problems in understanding what other people know and in adjusting their language accordingly
Bound Morpheme:
cannot stand alone; appear affixed to free morphemes (happiness, unclear, singing)
Broca’s Area:
left frontal region (inferior frontal gyrus) – controls tongue and lips; damage  Broca’s aphasia – good comprehension but much difficulty with producing the little words of the language (articles & prepositions) [I.E. – one patient replied “Boston College. Football. Saturday” to what he was planning on doing that weekend]
transcription rules – CHAT (Codes for the Human Analysis of Transcripts) – transcribe in a standardized way that makes computer analysis possible
Child-Directed Speech (CDS):
(baby talk, infant-directed speech): the special speech register used when talking to children, including short sentences, greater repetition and questioning, and higher and more variable intonation than hat of speech addressed to adults.
Child Language Data Exchange System, CHILDES web-based / available w/o cost to researchers everywhere / collects data internationally. 3 main parts: CLAN, CHAT, and database.
computer programs – CLAN (Computerized Language Analysis) – list every word used by the child
Cognitive Developmentalists:
language is just one facet of human cognition; children acquire language are basically learning to pair words w/ concepts they have already acquired.
Communicative Competence:
the ability to use language appropriately in a variety of situations; requires knowledge of the social rules for language use, or pragmatics (Quantity, Quality, Relevance, and Manner).
The understanding of language. Typically precedes production and is governed by a different set of constraints.
Conduction Aphasia:
unable to repeat (Arcuate Fasciculus).
digital files in 25 different languages, data contributed from about 100 research projects around the world
Decontextualized language:
language not tied to the here and now; develop the ability to provide explanations and descriptions
Derivational Morpheme:
derive new words (-ness, -un, -ing)
Down Syndrome:
may show rather typical patterns of language development but at a slower rate than typically developing children
any one of a number of conditions that lead to a specific impairment in learning to read; dyslexias are typically linguistic processing problems, rather than difficulties with perception.
Free Morpheme:
can stand alone (cat, danger)
Information Theorists:
(interested in human cognition from the perspective of the neural architecture that supports it) see children as processors of information and they use the computer to model the ways neural connections supporting language are strengthened through exposure to adult speech
present at birth, part of an organism’s essential nature.
Internalized Representation:
individuals acquire language that is systematic in nature and agreeable to study.
The process whereby one side of the brain becomes specialized for particular functions; for instance, the left side becomes lateralized for language.
Linguistic Competence:
individual who acquires the phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics of a language (i.e. “Pardon me, sir, but might I borrow your pencil for a moment?”)
Metalinguistic Awareness:
ability to think about their language, understand what words are, and even define them.
a minimal meaningful unit of language. A free morpheme can stand alone. A bound morpheme must always be connected to another morpheme.
The rules that govern the use of morphemes in a language.
a new made up word, often a word in the language (e.g. elicitation, wug).
Overlaid Functions:
the organs involved in its production (tongue & lungs) all have primary functions other than language
After they learn regular plurals and pasts (juices and heated), they create some over-regularized forms (gooses and eated).
a speech sound that can signal a difference of meaning; two similar speech sounds p and b represent different phonemes in English because there are pairs of words with different meanings that have the same phonetic form, except the one contains b where the other contains p. E.g. pet and bet.
study of the sound system of language. The sounds the language uses, as well as the rules for their combination.
system of rules that dictates the way language is used to accomplish social ends
the process of speaking.
Semantic Development:
ways in which speakers relate words to their referents & their meanings.
the study of the meaning system of language.
Social Interactionists:
child’s motivation to communicate with others  emphasize the role that the special features of child-directed speech (CDS) may play in facilitating children’s language acquisition.
Species Specifics/Species Uniform:
unique to humans and essentially similar in all humans
Specific language impairment:
problems in language development accompanied by no other obvious physical, sensory, or emotional difficulties
Speech Acts:
polite requests, or clarification of their own utterances
includes the rules for how to combine words into acceptable phrases and sentences and how to transform sentences into other sentences
utterances w/o articles, prepositions, inflections, or any other adult grammatical modifications (e.g. that doggie = that is a doggie)
Wernicke’s area:
posterior left temporal lobe – damage  fluent speech with many neologisms [nonsense words] and poor comprehension [i.e. a patient was asked to name an ashtray and replied “that’s a fremser” and when asked what a fremser was the patient didn’t understand]
Baby Talk:
one of many names for the speech register used with young children. The term is sometimes used to refer to the speech of young children as well.
Biological Capacity:
innate factors for certain sorts of behaviors and abilities to develop. That biological capacity will not be realized without certain kinds of environmental supports.
an early communicative function, also called a declarative, in which an infant calls a caregiver’s attention to something in the surroundings, often by gesturing or pointing.
Communicative Function:
the purposes for which language is used such as rejection, requests, and comments
Communicative temptation task:
tasks designed to elicit communication efforts from an infant. For example, a child may be presented with an attractive toy inside a tightly covered plastic container (structure observation).
Declarative communicative function:
Consistent gestures or vocalizations used to direct the partner’s attention for the purpose of jointly noticing an object or event.
Games, routines, and other highly structured situations can provide formats for the development of early communication signals. Such routine events provide another way for the infant to begin noticing correspondences between sounds and meaning (picture book reading).
Gaze coupling:
a type of mutual eye contact important to caregivers in establishing an affective bond with the infant.
Infant-Directed Speech (IDS):
speech directed at infants that contains special modifications (e.g. high fundamental frequency, variable intonation).
Intentional Communication:
any communicative act that an individual engages in purposefully (eye contact while gesturing/vocalizing, gestures/vocalizations are consistent and ritualized, pauses for response, and persistence in attempting to communicate.)
Intrusive Interactional Style/Controlling interactional style:
a style that is constantly redirecting the child’s attention
Joint attention:
situation in which two individuals are paying attention to the same thing at the same time, as in reading a book (6 months old).
Low-Structured Observation:
the caregiver is instructed to play with the child in a natural way, and a trained observer scores the child’s behavior either during the session or from a videotape.
MacArthur Communicative Development Inventories (CDI):
norms that are available for various aspects of language development, based on a large study that collected mothers’ reports on their children’s communicative behaviors. These are two scales, one for infants and one for toddlers.
Means-end Concept:
the infant will begin to anticipate what typically happens (Piaget stage 4)
Piagetian Stage 4:
Argued that the infant is innately endowed with certain reflexes and with basic processes for learning from its interaction with objects in the environment. Stage 4 = 8-12 months, infants begin to understand the relation between actions and outcomes, the infant will begin to anticipate what typically happens (attaining a means- end concept), Babies begin to communicate intentionally when they heave learned that there are causes for events, They learn that it is possible to bring about changes through various means, one of which is to use another person to carry out one’s goal and a major change takes place in the infant’s social cognition around 9-10 months as the infant becomes able to share experiences with others.
The first 12 months of life, Infant is responsive to language, vocalizes in a variety of ways, and towards the end of the first year, discovers the possibility of communication through nonword vocalizations and gestures.
Prosodic Features
One of the most dramatic characteristics of CDS is its prosodic features, such as higher pitch, more variable pitch, and exaggerated stress.
a sequence of sounds (used by a child) that has a relatively consistent meaning but is not necessarily based on any adult word. The term phonetically consistent form and vocable are also used for this general notion.
consistent gestures or vocalizations used to terminate an interaction (a Imperative Communicative Function).
consistent gestures or vocalizations used to get the partner to do something or to help the child achieve a goal (a Imperative Communicative Function).
Responsive Interactional Style/Sensitive Interactional Style:
When the caregiver follows the child’s interest and bases the next utterances on what the child is focusing on.
Social Cognition:
knowledge about other people that makes interpersonal interaction possible.
Structured observation:
one manipulates the situation somewhat to increase the likelihood of observing the behavior of interest
Additive bilingualism:
acquisition of a second language while retaining one’s original language.
Adolescent register:
special forms of speech used by adolescents to mark themselves as adolescents.
Alphabetic principle:
the basic principle that underlies our orthographic system: Letters of the alphabet represent the sounds of our spoken language.
Automaticity (automatized):
the potential of a process to be completed with great speed after long practice, without allocating to it conscious attention. When a cognitive process becomes automatic, it does not require extra time or processing capacity.
Bottom-up model:
a term taken from artificial intelligence to depict the direction of processing. In bottom-up models, reading is conceptualized as dependent on accurate decoding of the letter strings that make up words.
Deep orthographies:
an orthography (a spelling system) in which there is a relatively variable relation (e.g. more than one-to one) between graphemes and phonemes.
Emergent literacy:
children’s understanding about reading and writing before they actually acquire these skills’ this understanding is enhanced in households that engage in many reading and writing activities.
Environmental print:
writing found on traffic signs, food and household goods, packaging, etc. Often the first words a child recognizes.
Expository writing:
Writing that depends upon logic, rather than chronology, as its organizational principle. Hierarchically organized language that is associated with the paradigmatic mode of thinking.
Expressive style:
a speech style observed in toddlers that is characterized by the use of many persona-social terms.
Extended discourse (decontextualized language):
multi-utterance discourse that makes reference to people, events, and experiences that are not part of the immediate context. Examples include narratives and explanations.
discourse that is specific to particular contexts and functions. Genres are characterized by consistencies in form and content.
the actual graphic forms or elements of the writing system: the letters of the alphabet, for example.
Grapheme-phoneme correspondence rules:
rules that define the relationship between a letter or group of letters and the sound they represent.
settings in which a group of learners are taught a new language through the medium of the new language.
Invented spelling:
systematic, rule-governed spelling that is created (invented) by developing writers.
Letter recognition:
detection of the features of a letter.
Metalingustic awareness (knowledge):
knowledge about language e.g. an understanding of what a word is and a consciousness of sounds of language. The ability to think about language.
Narrative mode:
thinking that reflects human intentions and is organized around chronology.
stories, usually about the past. A minimum narrative consists of two sequential clauses, temporally ordered, about a single past event.
Narrative writing:
writing that uses the sequence of events in time as its organizational principle.
Paradigmatic mode:
thinking that is logical and scientific.
Phonological recoding:
the process whereby a letter string (written word) is decoded into its phonological representation which can then be recognized as a word.
Reading as decoding (phonics):
an approach to the teaching of reading that explicitly emphasizes mastery of the alphabetic principle and grapheme-phoneme correspondence rules.
Reading for meaning:
an approach to reading instruction that emphasizes inferential skills and treating texts as sources of meaning.
word games, usually in the form of questions that play on linguistic ambiguity.
separation of the stream of speech into its constituents, for instance breaking words into syllables and phonemes.
Semantic knowledge:
the acquisition of words and their many meanings and the development of that knowledge into a complex hierarchical network of associated meanings.
Shallow orthographies:
an orthography in which there exists a close relationship (one to one) between graphemes and the phonemes they represent.
language learning setting in which one second-language learner is surrounded by native speakers.
Subtractive bilingualism:
bilingualism characterized by the loss of one’s original language while learning a second language.
Top-down model:
a term taken from artificial intelligence research to depict the direction of processing. Top-down (concept driven) indicates that processing moves from the level of concepts downward to basic level data. Top-down reading models conceptualize reading as involving the generation and testing of hypotheses.
Topic-associating narrative:
narrative that link several episodes thematically.
Topic-focused narrative:
a narrative about a single person or event, that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Contrasts with topic associating style.
Verbal aggression:
aggression achieved through language.
Verbal humor:
humor achieved through language.
Whole language (literature based):
a reading for meaning approach that stresses involvement with whole or meaningful texts.
Word recognition:
the recognition that letter strings represent conventional words.
Articulatory phonetics:
the study of the types of sound waves produced by different shapes of the vocal tract when making speech sounds. This knowledge allows scientists to synthesize speech by reproducing the acoustic patterns.
sounds that are a combination of a stop and fricative, such as the voiced sound at the beginning of judge or the unvoiced sound at the beginning of church.
any one of the possible phonetic forms of a morpheme; for example, the English possessive ending, spelled s, has 3 allomorphs, s, z ez. Which allomorph is used depends on the final sound of the word.
refers to any consonant made with the tongue near or touching the alveolar ridge, behind the upper front teeth. English alveolar consonants include, t, d, n, s and z.
changing a sound in a word to make it more similar to an adjacent or nearby sound in that word or a neighboring word; e.g. assimilation leads us to pronounce green beans as greembeans.
a strategy employed by some children as they acquire the phonology of their language; they may avoid some sounds or sound sequences while exploiting others.
a sound, such as p or m, in which the place of articulation includes both lips.
Canonical form:
a sequence of phonological features expressing the properties that a group of highly similar words have in common.
Categorical discrimination:
two sounds with the same magnitude of acoustic difference are heard as different sounds (discriminated) if they fall into different phonemic categories, but they are heard as the same sound if they are from the same phonemic category.
any speech sound made by constricting the vocal tract enough to impede airflow through the mouth. Consonants include stops, affricatives, fricatives, nasal stops, and liquids. Glides (semi-vowels) are sometimes grouped with consonants.
Consonant cluster:
two or more consonants that occur together in a word, without intervening vowels. Permissible sequences and position within the word (initial, medial or final) are dictated by the phonological rules of the language.
limits or biases what children bring to the task of acquiring language. A constraint may dictate a cognitive strategy in the interpretation of words. One early constraint leads children to assume that a new word refers to a whole object, rather than to a part of the object.
a principle employed by children in word learning: they assume that words contrast in meaning; no two words have the same meaning.
said of vowels that change as they are produced, usually finishing with a glide.
Dummy syllable:
a place holder, or empty phonological form. Some children learning language use a dummy syllable in place of all unstressed initial syllables.
a strategy employed by a child acquiring phonology that involves frequent use of sounds or sound sequences that the child likes or finds easy to make.
one of the constraints, or strategies, employed by children acquiring phonology; Be as faithful to the adult model as possible. Other constraints might prevent the child from producing the exact adult form, but the pressure to be faithful will increase the similarity.
Free variation:
allophones that can appear in the same environment without changes in meaning are said to be in free variation. For instance, t can be released, unreleased aspirated or unaspirated when one says, hat.
a speech sound produced partly or wholly by airstreams frictions, such as s or v.
a speech sound made with slightly more vocal tract constriction than a vowel and having shorter duration than a vowel. The sounds j and w are glides. They are also referred to as semi-vowels.
pertaining to the glottis
the opening at the upper part of the larynx between the vocal folds.
High amplitude sucking (HAS):
a technique used to study infant perceptual abilities. Typically involves recording an infant’s sucking rate as a measure of her attention to various stimuli.
speech sounds made by placing the tongue between the teeth: the initial sounds of this or thing in English.
Intonation contour:
the pattern of rhythmic stress and pitch across an utterance. In English, a falling pitch at the end of an utterance typically indicates a statement, whereas a final rising pitch usually marks an interrogative.
a term with several different meanings: in normal adults, jargon refers to a specialized vocabulary associated with the workplace or particular activities; in infants jargon is a form of babbling with conversational intonation; in patients with aphasia nonsense words are jargon.
any speech sound made by bringing the lips close together or making them touch one another. The English labials are p, b, and m.
any speech sound made by bringing the lower lip close to or in contact with the upper teeth. The English labiodentals are fricatives f and v.
a consonantal speech sound made with less oral constriction than a fricative but more constriction than a glide. The English liquids are I and r.
Minimal pair:
a pair of words that differ in meaning and whose sounds are the same except for one phonetic segment. For example ram/ran form a minimal pair differing in only the final consonant; ram and rim form a minimal pair differing only with respect to the vowel.
vowel sounds that do not change into glides as they are pronounced. In English, the vowel in hot is a monophthony, whereas the vowel hate is diphthongized.
the rules governing sound changes that accompany the combination of morphemes in a language.
Nasal stop:
a speech sound made with the velum lowered so that air can escape through the nose. English nasals include m, n, n (with tail), the sound at the end of sing.
Nonreflexive vocalizations:
describing a process that has some voluntary component. Reflexive crying in infants soon develops into nonreflexive crying.
any speech sound that constricts the vocal tract enough to cause air stream friction or that closes it off entirely. The obstruent’s of a language consist of the stops, affricates, and fricatives.
Optimality theory:
a phonological theory that outlines constraints on pronounceable sounds and sound sequences. It lists typical constraints that speakers prefer not to violate, such as, every syllable should begin with one consonant followed by a vowel.
a speech sound made on the hard palate. In English, the initial sound of shirt is a palatal.
Phonotactic constraints:
the permissible sequences of sounds in a language.
Place of articulation:
the point or points in the vocal tract where the upper and lower articulators come closest together in the production of a particular phone.
referring to the regular forms of a language that are used in the formation of new words, regular plural endings, for instance.
Progressive phonological idiom:
a word in a child’s vocabulary that is pronounced more accurately than most other words of the same general adult target form. Idioms are an exception to the child’s current set of rules, and are progressive in the sense that they anticipate the ability the child will soon have.
Reduplicated babble:
babbling in which consonant-vowel combinations are repeated, such as bababa. Also called repetitive babbling and sound play.
Reflexive vocalization:
a sound made involuntarily, such as a vegetative sound, a burp, cough, newborn cry and so on.
a change backward from behavior that is more adult like to behavior that is a poorer approximation of the adult model and representative of earlier stages of development.
Self-organizing system:
a model of children’s early phonological development that relies on the child’s own cognition system and the presence of internal feedback mechanisms.
same as a glide.
an approach to the study of language variation and adaptation that considers the ways social constructs (class, gender, role, status, etc) impact upon language and that makes use of observation of natural conversations.
Stem allomorphy:
a change in the sound (regardless of the spelling) of the stem of a word when an affix is added. For example, the d at the end of allude becomes z when ion is added.
a speech sound characterized by the total interruption of a sound coming form the mouth, such as in the phonemes t and b in English.
Stress, stress pattern:
greater prominence on one or more syllables in a word; this may be due either to greater actual loudness, a marked change (usually a rise) in pitch, or greater length of the syllable.
parts of the phonological system that extend beyond individual sounds; examples are stress and intonation patterns.
Variegated babble:
babbling that includes a variety of sounds, such as babideeboo.
any speech sound produced by having the back of the tongue touch or come near the underside of the velum, or soft palate. The English velars are the consonants, k, g, and n (with a tail –ing).
Also called the soft plate; the soft extension of the hard palate. The velum plays two major roles as an articulator; First, it can be raised to close off the passage from the pharynx into the nasal cavity and lowered to open this passage. Second, the back of the tongue rises to touch the velum in the production of the velar stops.
Vocal fold:
often referred to as vocal cords, that portion of the larynx that vibrates and produces the sound that is the basis of the human voice.
Vocal motor scheme:
a scheme or program of motor activity that underlies a canonical form. The scheme is a tightly linked sequence of articulatory gestures (including timing of jaw and tongue movements, velum position changes, and vocal cord vibration). The gestures of a vocal motor scheme are not completely specified; instead, certain details – for example, one position or manner of articulation – can be varied as the child tries to make the output resemble a particular adult target.
said of a speech sound (stop, fricative, etc) produced with vocal cord vibration; e.g. a, z. In the case of English this term is usually also extended to the stops b, d, g.
Voice onset time (VOT):
a measure that describes the point during the production of a speech sound at which vocal cord vibration, or voicing, begins.
a speech sound made with a relatively unobstructed flow of air. Semivowels have some restriction but the air is not stopped and there are no friction sounds – w or y.
Basic Level Category:
The level of abstraction that is most generally appropriate in a given situation or for the given speaker: e.g. dog, rather than animal or collie.
Classical Concept:
a concept that can be characterized by unchanging criteria: For instance, a triangle can be defined as a 3-D figure.
Color Term:
any word that refers to a color (e.g. magenta).
Compound Word:
a word composed of two or more free morphemes (e.g. blackboard, merry-go-round).
Core Group:
a small subset of the vocabulary of a child, used very frequently.
Deictic Terms:
from the Greek keiktikos (able to show)l words that are used as linguistic pointers (e.g. here/there).
Derived Word:
a complex word made from a base morpheme to which various affixes have been added. E.g. unhappiness is derived from happy by the addition of the affixes un and ness.
Fast Mapping:
Children’s ability to form an initial hypothesis about a word’s meaning very quickly, after hearing it only once or twice; in depth learning requires multiple exposures to the word in many different contexts, however.
Focal colors:
among colors, those that are the most typical, the reddest reds and the bluest blues.
Folk etymology:
an explanation of a word’s origin that is not based on the actual historical record, but rather on common sense or custom. E.g. Its called Friday because that’s the day you eat fried fish.
Free-word association:
a word association in which the subject responds freely with the first word that comes to mind.
using words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning, e.g. its so clean in here said of a messy dorm room.
figure of speech in which one thing is called by the name of another to indicate the similarities between them e.g. This room is a pig pen.
Novel name-nameless category principle:
a strategy followed by young language learners, who assume that if they hear a new word in the presence of an object whose name they do not know, the word refers to that object.
Onset and rime:
onset refers to the initial consonant or group of consonants in a syllable and rime refers to the remainder of the syllable.
Ontological categories:
concepts about how the word is organized that young children have before they begin to learn language.
pointing to referent; a technique used by mothers in teaching basic level categories (e.g. that is your shoe).
used here to refer to a child’s use of a word in a broader context than is permissible in the adult language, e.g. an infant may call all men daddy.
Phonological awareness:
a form of metalinguistic knowledge that includes the ability to recognize the sounds of language and to talk about them. One of the basic skills that underlies literacy.
Preferential looking paradigm:
an experimental design used with prelinguistic infants that track their eye movements when they are presented with verbal stimuli.
Principle of contrast:
children’s assumption that no two words have the same meaning. Hence they assume that a new word will not refer to something for which they already have a name.
Principle of mutual exclusivity:
a cognitive bias shown by young children, who typically avoid labeling anything at more than one level of generality; hence they may refer to their pet as a dog but not also as an animal.
rules or maxims. Basic tenets of a theory.
Probalistic concept:
a concept that is characterized by a variable set of criteria, unlike a classical concept. For instance bird is a probalistic concept, because no criterion defines its exclusively; a creature need not fly or have a beak or feathers to quality as a bird.
referring to the regular form of a language that are used in the formation of new words, regular plural endings, for instance.
an instance of a category that best exemplifies it; e.g. a robin is a prototypical member of the category bird, because it ahs all the important defining features.
the actual thing to which a particular word alludes – an actual cat, for instance – as opposed to the meaning of the word, which is a mental construct.
a use of language meant to wound others or convey contempt, often accomplished by the used of exaggerated intonation patterns and ironic devices.
Semantic feature:
one of the criteria by which a concept is defined and distinguished from other concepts. For instance + male and + relative are two features of the concept brother.
Semantic network:
a word and all of the words that are related to it through various hierarchies of meaning.
Set task:
a verbal task in which the respondent is required to produce particular types of items; for instance, to name in a short period of time as many items of clothing as possible or words beginning with a particular letter.
Shape bias:
a constraint on early word learning that leads the child to assume that a new word refers to the shape of an object rather than to its color, texture and other properties.
one of the principles children follow in creating new words. They extend forms they already know to cover new situations, creating words like bicycler for one who rides a bicycle.
Syntagmatic-paradigmatic shift:
The change-word association patterns seen when children reach the age of about 7; where previously they responded with a word that typically follows in conversation (eat:dinner), after the shift takes place they respond, like adults, with the same part of speech (eat:drink).
Taxonomic principle:
the assumption that a new word can be extended to members of the same category.
use or understanding of a word that does not include its full range; assuming, for instance that dog refers to only collies.
Word association:
words that come to mind as a result of hearing other words.
characterizes languages like Turkish, which add separate inflectional suffixes for masculine, plural, etc. In a predictable order. Contrasts with Synthetic.
Analytic style:
an early language acquisition strategy displayed by infants who have good comprehension and pay particular attention to individual words, rather than to phrases (contrasts to rote/holistic style).
Code oriented:
one kind of style exhibited by children learning language. Code-oriented children emphasize reference to things in their language.
a speech style observed in toddlers that is characterized by the use of many personal-social terms.
Message oriented:
an individual style of language acquisition that emphasizes the social situation, rather than reference to things.
Nominal strategy:
choice of words by young children who prefer to use nouns in their early two-word sentences, rather than pronouns.
Pronominal strategy:
a preference for pronouns, rather than nouns, exhibited by some young children in their early speech.
said of speech that makes reference to the outside word, for instance speech that names objects, as contrasted with speech that is expressive or more social in nature.
Rote/holistic style:
A style of early language acquisition characterized by the child’s learning a number of phrases or unanalyzed expressions. Contrasts with analytic style.
characteristics of languages that combine several grammatical inflections (e.g. third person, plural, past) into one form (opposite of agglutinated).
Transformational syntax:
a part of transformational generative grammar, developed by Chomsky, in which surface structure is derived from deep structure by the application of transformational rules.
Referring to previous discourse through the use of pronouns, definite articles, and other linguistic devices. For example, I saw a rainbow. It was beautiful.
Binding Principles:
according to Government and Binding theory, these are parts of the rules of our grammar that dictate the relation between words such as pronouns and their referents.
in language, this is one of a small group of words with a role that is basically grammatical in nature, such as articles and prepositions in English.
in linguistic theory, refers to the level of a grammar that captures the relationship between subject and object in a sentence.
Functional Category:
one of many methods used in the treatment of children with developmental disorders; children’s inappropriate behaviors are examined for motivation or function and replaced with more appropriate responses.
Government and Binding Theory: (GB)
A model of grammar descended from earlier Transformational Generative models. It proposes only one type of transformation (movement of elements), the specification of possible grammatical frames for lexical items and their mapping onto the syntax of sentences, and universal constraints on possible syntactic rules, among many other notions.
Index of Productive Syntax (IPSyn):
A method of evaluating children’s spontaneous language that relies upon scoring a sample for the presence of various grammatical forms.
the fact that children master their native tongue across the world in spite of the supposed indecipherable nature of language has come to be called the learnability problem by nativists who believe that children cannot learn language from what they hear.
Lexical Category:
one of the categories of the d-structure that includes content words and their meanings, according to GB theory.
Limited Scope Formulae:
simple combinatorial rules followed by children at the two-word stage of language development.
Logical Form:
The component of the s-structure in government and binding theory that captures the meaning of the sentence and connects it to other parts of cognition.
Mean Length of Utterance (MLU):
A measure applied to children’s language to gauge syntactic development; the average length of the child’s utterances is calculated in morphemes.
The process of making a sentence negative, usually by adding no or not and auxiliary articles, when appropriate.
Null-Subject Parameter/Paramter:
According to current theory, a parameter is a kind of linguistic switch that the young learner sets after exposure to language – one of a finite number of values along which languages are free to vary. For example, the so-called pro-drop (null-subject) parameter distinguishes languages such as English and German, which do not permit emission of lexical subjects from languages such as Spanish or Italian, which do.
Overregularization errors:
a common tendency among children and second language learners, overregularization involves applying regular and productive grammatical rules to words that are exceptions; e.g. hurted and mousse.
Sentences in which the object of action is highlight: the girl was kissed by the chimp.
Phonetic form:
A major component of the s-structure, according to government and binding theory. The phonetic form is the actual sound structure of the sentence.
Phrase structure rules:
a major part of the d-structure, according to the GB theory, that captures the relation between subjects and predicates.
Relative clauses:
a dependent clause that begins with a relative pronoun (that, where, who, and so on).
Semantic relations:
characterizing the limited set of meanings conveyed by children’s early utterances.
Sentence modality:
the basic forms sentences may take, including declaratives, questions and imperatives.
one of the major levels of grammar, according to government and binding theory. The s-structure contains the linear arrangement of words in a sentence.
thematic roles:
(semantic roles) the components of GB grammar that connect the lexicon to the logical form component of the s-structure, assigning noun phrases to roles such as agent or location.
transformational rule:
In Chomsky’s latest grammar, transformational rules, such as [move a] – meaning move any part of the sentence to a new position – applied to the d-structure, produce various syntactic surface forms while retaining the meaning or intent of the original.
universal grammar:
Hypothetical set of restrictions governing the possible forms all human languages may take.
property assumed to characterize all human languages.
a question preceded by a wh-word, such as who, what, where, when (or how) that requires specification of the missing element in the answer.
yes/no question:
a question that may be responded to by saying yes or no.

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