Linguistics Chapter 2 Building Blocks Language Learning Outcomes Discuss Important Concepts Related Early Phonological

Document Type
Homework Help
Book Title
Language Development From Theory to Practice 3rd Edition
Khara L. Pence Turnbull, Laura M. Justice
Chapter 2: Building Blocks of Language
Learning Outcomes:
2. Discuss important concepts related to early morphological development.
4. Identify major building blocks in early semantic development.
5. Explain important concepts related to early pragmatic development.
I. What is Phonological Development?
A. Phonological development involves acquiring the rules of language that govern the sound
structure of syllables and words.
B. Words that differ by only one phoneme, such as low and row, are called minimal pairs.
C. In essence, a phonological representation is a neurological imprint of a phoneme that
differentiates it from other phonemes.
D. Having this imprint (internal representation) does not necessarily correspond to being
able to produce a phoneme.
E. Phonological development also involves developing sensitivity to the phonotactic rules
of a person’s native language; these rules specify “legal” orders of sounds in syllables
and words and the places where specific phonemes can and cannot occur.
F. Phonological Building Blocks
1. Cues to Segment Streams of Speech
a. Early in development, infants exhibit the capacity to use specific cues within the
speech stream to parse it into smaller units (e.g., words) and to separate
simultaneously occurring speech streams.
b. When using prosodic cues, infants draw on their familiarity with word and
syllable stress patterns, or the rhythm of language, to break into the speech
2. Phonemic Inventory
a. Another major building block in phonological development is the child’s
acquisition of internal representations of the phonemes composing his or her
b. When their inventory is relatively small, children use a single phoneme (e.g., /d/)
to express multiple phonemes (e.g., /t/, /d/, /k/, and /g/).
c. Vowels develop prior to consonants, typically in the first year of life.
d. Some consonants are acquired or expressed at the same time; some emerge early
in development (early consonants) and others emerge later (late consonants).
e. Several factors influence the timing of development for specific phonemes,
3. Phonological Awareness
a. Phonological awareness is an individual’s ability to attend to the phonological
units of speech through implicit or explicit analysis.
b. We can examine an individual’s phonological awareness using a variety of simple
oral tasks (below).
c. Syllable counting: How many syllables are in the target word.
d. Rhyme detection: Determining which words in a set rhyme.
e. Initial sound identification: Saying the first sound in a word.
f. Initial sound elision: Say the target word without the initial phoneme.
g. Phoneme counting: Saying how many sounds there are in a word.
h. Of the five tasks above, the latter three are the most challenging because one has
G. Influences on Phonological Development
1. Native Language
a. Infants’ phonological development is influenced significantly by the phonemic
composition of the language (or languages) to which the infants are exposed.
2. Linguistic Experience
a. Children develop phonological representations through their exposure to
phonemic contrasts in their language; thus, differences in the timing of
phonological development occur, at least in part, because of variability in
children’s phonological exposure.
II. What is Morphological Development?
A. Morphological Building Blocks
1. Morphological development involves acquiring two types of morphemes:
2. Grammatical Morphemes
a. At about age 2 years, children begin to use the first-appearing grammatical
morphemes, the present progressive ing.
b. Suffixes (and prefixes) are called bound morphemes because they must be
bound or attached to other morphemes.
c. Free morphemes can stand alone; they include both words with clear semantic
referents (e.g., dream, dog, walk), and words that serve primarily grammatical
purposes (e.g., his, the, that).
d. Parents don’t need to coach their children to use grammatical morphemes at all, as
3. Derivational Morphemes
a. We add derivational morphemes to root words to create derived words.
b. The corpus of words derived from a common root word (e.g., friend, friendless,
B. Influences on Morphological Development
1. Second Language Acquisition
a. Persons learning a second language that differs considerably in its grammatical
2. Dialect
a. The dialects of a language vary in a number of important ways from the “general
dialect,” including their morphology.
b. Some morphological features of AAE differ from those of General American
English (GAE), including the use of copulative, or be, auxiliary verbs; verb tense
inflections; and possessive and plural inflections.
c. AAE-speaking students who have more knowledge of GAE tend to perform better
3. Language Impairment
a. One hallmark of specific language impairment (SLI), a developmental language
disorder is difficulty with grammatical morphology.
b. For instance, whereas typically developing children use the present progressive
III. What is Syntactic Development?
A. Syntactic development is children’s internalization of the rules of language that govern
how words are organized into sentences.
B. Children develop this sophisticated ability to organize words into larger propositions by
gradually internalizing the grammatical system of their language.
E. Syntactic Building Blocks
1. Utterance Length
a. A major accomplishment that most children achieve with relative ease by their
sixth birthday is the production of utterances that are, on average, nearly as long
as those of adults.
2. Sentence Modalities
a. Once children begin to combine morphemes to create longer and longer
utterances, they begin to produce sentences of various types, or modalities.
b. Declaratives: Declarative sentences make a statement, and simple declaratives
often use these six organizational schemes (below).
c. Subject + Verb (I bake)
d. Subject + Verb + Object (I bake bread)
e. Subject + Verb + Complement (I feel good)
i. Three-year-old children have commonly mastered most of these basic declarative
patterns, and even use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions (like and, but,
and so) to link several of them.
j. Children are never taught explicitly how to produce these and other types of
declarative sentences, rather, they intuit the rules from the language they
experience around them and gradually become capable of producing an infinite
variety of declaratives on the basis of these internalized rules.
k. Negatives: Negative sentences express negation and rely on such words as no,
getting a prize), and negative sentences that involve probability estimates (I’m not
sure if she’ll get the prize).
q. Interrogatives: Interrogative sentences involve the act of questioning.
r. Children’s development of the interrogative sentence modality includes two major
question types: wh-questions and yes-no questions.
3. Complex Syntax: Linking Phrases and Clauses
a. A phrase is a cluster of words organized around a bead.
b. Types of phrases include noun phrases, prepositional phrases, adjectival phrases,
and verb phrases.
c. With phrasal development, sentences become increasingly elaborate.
F. Influences on Syntactic Development
1. Child-Directed Speech
a. Child-directed speech (CDS) refers to the talk directed to children by others,
including parents and other caregivers.
b. A large body of work shows that the syntax to which children are exposed in CDS
relates to their syntactic development.
c. Interestingly, children whose caregivers use a larger number of “me + verb”
sequences in their CDS as in “Let me do it” and “Did you see me doing it?” –
2. Language Impairment
a. Both developmental and acquired language disorders often disrupt syntactic
comprehension and production.
b. Developmental language disorders are present at birth.
c. Language disorders that affect only language (and no other aspect of
development, such as cognition) are viewed as “specific” – hence, the term
specific language impairment (SLI).
d. Some language disorders are secondary, resulting from or occurring
concomitantly with other disabilities, such as cognitive impairment.
h. Adolescents with DS produce sentences averaging only four morphemes long,
shorter than those produced by typically-developing 6-year-olds.
i. Acquired language disorders occur as a result of injury or illness that damages the
language centers of the brain.
j. In some instances of stroke, the damage affects the part of the brain involved with
syntax, this can cause an individual to lose the ability to produce syntactically
complex language.
IV. What is Semantic Development?
A. Semantic development refers to an individual’s learning and storage of the meanings of
B. Children’s semantic and syntactic development is highly interrelated, potentially
emerging synchronously.
C. For instance, children’s acquisition of grammatical morphemes, such as the plural
marker, is closely related to their acquisition of count nouns (e.g., dog, bottle, toy).
D. Semantic Building Blocks
1. Mental Lexicon
a. A person’s mental lexicon is the volume of words he or she understands
(receptive lexicon) and uses (expressive lexicon).
b. Typically, the receptive lexicon is larger because an individual usually
understands many more words than he or she actually uses.
g. Rather, most show a continuous, linear increase in their vocabulary size.
h. When practitioners think about the size of a child’s lexicon, they consider not
only its volume, but also the individual lexical items it contains.
i. A semantic taxonomy differentiates words on the basis of their semantic roles.
j. One classic semantic taxonomy differentiates children’s lexical items into five
2. New Words
a. When a child encounters a word for the first time, his or her knowledge of the
word is incomplete.
b. Between the initial exposure to a word and achieving a deepened flexible
understanding of it, word knowledge is in a “fragile” state, meaning the child will
an individual can generate a mental image of the word.
Young children learn words with high imageability earlier than words with
low imageability.
e. Phonological form of the word
The relationship between the phonological form of a word and the concept to
which it refers is most often arbitrary.
Exceptions include onomatopoeic words, such as boom and crash.
Many young children use onomatopoeic words first to refer to objects (e.g.,
f. Contextual conditions at initial exposure
Children draw on many sources of contextual information to develop and
refine their internal representations of novel words.
g. In a lead-in, an adult labels an object or event that is outside of the child’s
attentional focus.
h. In a follow-in, an adult labels an object or event that is currently the child’s
attentional focus.
i. Researchers have long contended that the follow-in is more influential to
children’s vocabulary growth than the lead-in, but it also seems that lead-ins are
successful in shifting the child’s attention to the novel focus and can also support
children’s word learning.
j. Children also draw on information from the extralinguistic context, seeking overt
cues from the environment that clearly label or define the referent of a new word,
such as the eye gaze and gestures of their conversational partners.
k. In ostensive word learning contexts, a great deal of contextual information is
3. Semantic Network
a. As the human brain acquires new words, they are stored in a semantic network
in which its entries are organized according to connective ties among them.
b. The connections among words vary in strength from strong to weak according to
the extent to which they share syntactic, phonological, or semantic features.
c. Theories on how an individual accesses specific entries in the semantic network
E. Influences on Semantic Development
1. Gender
a. In the first several years of language acquisition, girls usually have larger
2. Language Impairment
a. Children who exhibit a developmental disorder of language (SLI) typically have
significantly smaller vocabularies than those of their peers without SLI.
3. Language Exposure
a. Children reared in orphanages who experience relatively little language input
typically show depressed vocabularies.
b. The same finding is true for children reared in low-SES households compared
with children living in higher-SES households, presumably because children in
low-SES households are exposed to fewer words.
V. What is Pragmatic Development?
A. Pragmatic Building Blocks
1. Three important aspects of pragmatic development are (a) using language for
2. Communication Functions
a. When people use language in social contexts, behind every utterance is an
intention, or communication function.
3. Conversational Skills
a. When children express communication functions, they do so in exchanges with
other people, called conversations.
b. One key aspect of pragmatic development is developing understanding of
conversational schema.
c. Schema are the building blocks of cognition and, in essence, are internalized
representations of the organizational structures of various events.
d. When children have a robust representation of a particular schema, their cognitive
provide according to whether listeners share background information.
g. Children must learn how to enter a conversation in which they were not
previously involved.
h. To do so, they must identify the frame of reference for the conversation and then
establish themselves as sharing that frame of reference.
the conversation.
m. Young children participate in protoconversations embedded in highly scripted
routines focused on concrete objects, such as play with a familiar toy.
n. Children usually assume more active conversational roles and produce longer
turns than in less structured and unfamiliar routines.
4. Sensitivity to Extralinguistic Cues
a. When individuals use language for social-interactional purposes, they draw on a
variety of extralinguistic devices to aid communication, such as posture, gesture,
facial expression, eye contact, proximity, pitch, loudness, and pausing.
b. Attending to extralinguistic cues surrounding the speech stream is an important
tool children use early in life to make sense of the language directed at them.
c. Beyond infancy children learn how to use facial expressions, gestures, stress, and
B. Influences on Pragmatic Development
1. Temperament
a. Temperament is the way in which an individual approaches a situation,
particularly one that is unfamiliar; put simply, temperament describes a person’s
2. Social and Cultural Contexts of Development
a. Social and cultural communities have distinct rules about how language should be
used during social interactions.
b. These rules govern, for instance, how conversations are organized and how
speakers address one another.
Beyond the Book:
2. Watch a video of a toddler on Describe the child’s language in terms of
form, content, and use. What do you notice about the toddler’s language abilities?
3. Go to the local library or bookstore. Select two children’s picture books from the shelf.
Analyze each for the variety of new and interesting words they contain or, in other
words, the number of word-learning opportunities each would provide to a young child.
How do the books compare?
4. Play a board game, such as Candy Land, with a 3- or 4-year-old child. Examine the
Discussion Points:
What are some additional illegal sound combinations in English?
Using the word school, identify all the morphemes that can be added to it to inflect it.
Classify each morpheme as grammatical or derivational.
Have you ever had to diagram a complex sentence? If so, why do so many students find
this activity such a challenge when they have been able to produce complex sentences
since early childhood?
What are some examples of new or novel words you have heard recently?
What specific types of information would make a word-learning context ostensive?

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