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Child Language Acquisition – understanding language for use

The behaviorism hurry is a nurture theory that highlights the input of the caregivers to the child, by claiming that children acquire language through imitation Of Other people. The theory was developed by Skinner, a psychologist, who wrote a book called ‘verbal behavior. His research for the theory came from testing on animals such as rats and pigeons to see their gut noise responses. He suggested that children are trained’ to speak. He thought that input from adults lead to children’s speech output. His theory showed that children learn pragmatics such as humor and politeness through imitation.

Therefore, hillier can use these pragmatics in the real world as they can link them to times that they have heard adults use them e. G. If an adult knocks something over and apologizes, the child then knows that fifths do that too, they must apologies. However, the theory believes that if an adult corrects a child too frequently, when they use language wrongly, it can hinder the child’s development of speech. Also, another problem with adult correcting a child’s speech, is that they generally correct the truth of what they’re saying rather than the grammar used. E. G.

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If a child sees some goats but calls them sheep”, the adult will tell the child that they are in fact goats, but will not comment that they have said the plural of sheep wrongly. The theory has support from a variety of other research from other linguists such as ‘the naming explosion’. This is because, a child has to ask an adult what something is, for the adult to tell them the name of something. The child then copies the name and therefore learns the word. This applies to the real world because the child then understands what the object is and can use it in their own speech.

Similarly, another area that the theory supports is Nelson’s first rod categories. This is because, the largest category from Nelson’s research is the naming category. Children learn the name of things through imitating what an adult names an object. Thus, we can tell that the largest majority of children’s first words are names that they have copied from adults. As they copy the words, they remember them and understand them, so they can apply them in real conversations.

Roger Brown’s ‘U-shaped graph Of regression’ supports the theory, as the start of the graph shows that children can appropriately use language that they have learnt through imitation of adults speech. This shows that children can correctly copy adult’s speech and apply it to their own lives and conversations. Jean Atchison labeling research is support for the theory as it involves a child making the link between the sounds of particular words and the objects which they refer to e. G. Understanding that “mummy’ refers to the child’s mother. In other words, associating a name with something.

This means that a child has to imitate an adult to understand the label for that thing. However, there are many pieces of research that don’t agree with Skinner’s theory. For instance, Leslie Recall’s theory of overextension. This theories findings show that children use three types of overextension when they speak: categorical, analogical and mismatch statements. Categorical overextension is when one member of a category is used for all members of the category e. G. Apple for all fruit. Analogical overextension is when a word for one object is extended to one in a different category e. . Ball used for orange (similar shape). Mismatch statements are one-word sentences that make a statement about one object in relation to another e. G. Duck used for pond. These overextension show that just because a child can imitate what an adult names an object, they eight not be able to then correctly understand the confines of the word and will use it for other things that are related to it but have different names. Therefore, they can’t use their language properly, as they do not fully understand how to define an object so can’t talk about it or use it in speech.

Jean Burro created fictional characters called ‘hugs’, she used these characters to show children’s understanding of morphology. She did this by showing the child one hug and saying “here is a hug” and then another picture, “here is another hug’ and asking “Now there are 2 This test wowed children’s levels of creativity and deduction, as they didn’t need to imitate and adult to know how to correctly use and apply plurals and other grammatical rules to their speech. This shows that children’s understanding of language isn’t solely based on imitation of adult’s.

Stephen Pinkie’s theory that “A word is a stretch of sound that is consistently applied to the same object referent. ” Disproves Skinner’s theory as it links to Recall’s theory of overextension. Pinker says that a child doesn’t understand something properly until they only call the real object that name and not various objects e. G. Child calls every woman “mummy’ because they have just copied an adult pointing to their mum and calling her “mummy’. The child doesn’t understand that only that one person is “mummy” and not all women.

When the child only calls their mother “mummy” and no other women, they fully understand the word. Therefore, imitation doesn’t mean that children understand the meaning of the word, so they cannot correctly use it in their speech. The natives/maintains theory is a nature theory developed by linguists, NOAA Chomsky and Eric Lundeberg. Chomsky believes that all children are born with an inherited ability to learn any language in the world. So, certain structures of language that children use accurately must be pre- programmed in the child’s mind.

The theory claims that a child’s input is processed through the brain before it comes out of its mouth as modified output. This comes from Chomsky belief that every child has a ‘language acquisition device’ (LAD) which encodes the major principles of a language and its grammatical structures into the child’s brain. Children only have to learn new vocabulary and apply the syntactic structures from the LAD to form sentences. Thus, the brain deduces patterns of grammar and morphology even though it might appear that the child is simply imitating someone.

The theory also claims that all babies are naturally/innately predisposed to acquire language. Chomsky, in particular, focuses on children’s thought and language processing and claims that they are creative and destructive language users and they adapt and understand patterns, such as plurals. Also, he focuses on the poverty of the stimulus, which is where adults are not good enough for children to solely imitate their language, especially if the adults use non-standardized language, this is because spoken language is giggly irregular and adult speech is often broken up and sometimes ungrammatical.

The theory has a variety Of support from other theories and linguistic research. Brown’s ‘U-shaped graph of regression’ is proof of the theory in the middle section as it shows that children start to make grammatical mistakes in their language at about 2 h years old. These mistakes show that children are not learning through imitation alone and they are trying to figure out how to develop their language. E. G. A child saying “I drawer” instead of “l drew’ as they don’t understand how to correctly apply tenses to their language. But, they are still understanding what they are trying to say and what it applies to.


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