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58 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
What is the logical problem of language acquisition?
impoverished data

"How can we accound for the ease, rapidity, and uniformity of language acquisition in the face of impoverished data?" (Chomsky 11965)
What is negative evidence?
Negative evidence is explicit information about what is ungrammatical or illegal in the language.
What is the "developmental problem of language acquisition"?
If children have a rich, innate, language-specific structure and access to primary data, then what accounts for the various delays, stages, and errors that we find in development?
Does negative evidence contribute to language acquisition?
No, because children are not systematically to it.
Give some examples of errors children make and of errors that they never make.
Children DO make errors of morphological generalization (i.e., 'goed', 'bringed', 'mouses'). Children DO NOT make errors such as using a pronoun to refer to a noun that is lower in the tree (later in the sentence).
What are some stages of language development?
babbling, holophrastic (one-word) stage, telegraphic (genitive marker, 'be' and determiners are omitted and pro-drop)
What is UG?
A set of innate linguistic principles that interact with the linguistic environment to determine a particular grammar in the mind/brain of an individual.
A child's grammar at every stage of his/her development is not haphazard and random, it is...
systematic! Child language always has a grammar. It's just not the same as adult grammar.
What does the modularity hypothesis posit?
That the human mind is, at least in part, composed of separate innate structures (i.e. Chomsky's "language acquisition device") which have established, evolutionary functions.
What are the three main reasons that decoding speech is very difficult?
1) Speech is continuous - though people may pause sometimes at syntactic boundaries or words, it's not regular
2) Speech sounds vary - phonemes have a different realization from speaker to speaker and often times even from token to token for the same speaker
3) Articulatory gestures interact - coarticulation, the overlapping of articulatory movements
What is categorical perception of consonants?
Adult speakers perceive contrasts that straddle phonemic boundaries in their language, but not within categories. For example, the VOT perception boundary for English falls at 30ms. A sound with less than that will be perceived as a [b] and one with more as a [p].
What is VOT?
Voice Onset Time: start of voicing relative to the release of the stop closure
Describe the VOT continuum.
voicless aspirated stops: voicing is delayed until after the release
voiced stops: voicing begins nearly at the same time that the stop is released (phonetically, voiceless aspirated)
prevoiced: voicing begins before the release
How do infants respond to the categories of consonants?
-English speaking children as young as 1 mo. could discriminate pairs which cross the English VOT boundary of 30ms and not pairs which both fell on either side of the boundary.
-American infants were given sounds from Hindi and Thompson Salish (dental vs. retroflex and velar vs. velar ejectives). At 6-8 mos. infants are quite good at distinguishing between the two, but get worse and worse.
-During the second half of the first year, infants begin to lose perceptual abilities for non-native sounds, just as their babbling begins to take on characteristics of their target language.
What are some ways to measure phonetic sensitivity in infants?
-High Amplitude Sucking Technique (HAS) (also called the Non-Nutritive Sucking Technique): preference is determined by the rate of an infant's sucking; supposedly they speed up when they like something or perceive a change in their environment
-head-turning technique: same thing as sucking but they turn their heads toward a novel sound/form...or one they prefer??
What is perceptual constancy?
Though sounds/forms vary from token to token and from speaker to speaker, people, speakers perceive these sounds/forms as constant. They can easily categorize and understand them.
What are some characteristics of babbling?
usually from 7-12 mos., canonical and reduplicated syllables (i.e., dada, gaga, mama)
How does babbling change from 6-12 mos.?
Around 10 mos., children start babbling with a greater variety of consonants and vowels in the same consonant. Children also begin to show language-specific differences at this age.
What can fetuses hear while they swim around in their saline pools?
They can hear rhythm, intonation, and possibly a vague perception of vowel differences.
What do infants of just 4 days show a preference for?
Their parental language!
What do infants of just 3 days show a preference for?
Their mother's voice! (over other female voices)W
What does the Feature Detector Hypothesis (Eimas et al) posit?
That categorical perception has strong biological determinants, which are later modified by experience with a particular.
English speaking children as young as 1 mo. betweens pairs which cross the English boundary of....
+30ms VOT. And could not distinguish between others.
Who tested what animal for perception of perception of VOT?
Kuhl and Miller (1975) found that chinchillas can distinguish differences in VOT.
What did Werker and Tees test in 1985?
They gave American infants and American adults sounds from Hindi (dental vs. retroflex) and Thomson Salish (velar vs. uvular ejectives). RESULTS: The adults could not discriminate between the pairs and the infants could.
Around what age do children begin producing their first words?
12 mos. (this is also when they have lost the ability to distinguish non-native contrasts)
What did Kuhl find out about 6 month-olds' discrimination of English vowels when produced by different voices and intonations?
Though not as good as adults, children seem to be very good at categorizing sounds despite variances from a young age. (Kuhl found in another study that this is specific to the child's target language)
When do infants begin discriminating their native language from foreign ones?
In the first few days of life. They can also discriminate between two foreign languages.
What is different about an infant's vocal tract?
high placement of larynx, shorter pharyngeal cavity, relatively huge soft palate/tongue, gradual rather than right-angle bend in the vocal tract
Do deaf children have babbling? Why or why not?
They do not produce canonical babbling because there is simply a lack of input. Instead they babble with their hands (presuming they have enough signing input).
What are the two theories of babbling the Prof. Hyams says are wrong?
-independence hypothesis: babbling is the natural output of an immature production apparatus with no link to perceptual mechanisms
-discontinuity hypothesis: babbling is a random production of a wide range of human sounds, unrelated to later phonological development
What is bootstrapping? Give an example of each type.
-semantic: an agent is an NP
-prosodic: cues can show what a syntactic or word boundary is
-syntactic: structure can reveal meaning (i.e. if a foreign word is in subject position, then it must be an NP)
What are some prosodic cues to syntactic boundaries?
-Syllables that end phrases or clauses tend to be lengthened relative to syllables elsewhere.
-Pitch tends to decline at the end of major syntactic constituents and rise at their beginnings.
-Pauses are more likely to occur at syntactic boundaries.
Are 6-10 month old infants sensitive to prosodic cues to syntactic boundaries? What is the evidence?
When exposed to speech with either pauses at syntactic boundaries or in more unnatural places, they reliably preferred the nature breaks (though only in infant directed speech)
Are prosodic cues reliable?
No! Pauses often do not correspond to boundaries and boundaries often occur without pauses.
Which part of a sentence has phonological prominence (greatest stress)?
The most deeply embedded one. The object, if there is one.
What is the evidence that shows that children are highly sensitive to the rhythm of their language?
American 9 mo. year olds showed a strong preference for a list of bisyllabic words with a strong-weak stress pattern (trochaic, which is prominent in English) vs. a list of weak-strong words. *this is a type of bootstrapping in that children can use this stress pattern to segment words
Are infants sensitive to the phonotactics (phonological constraints) of their language?
Yes! English infants showed a longer looking time at a list of English words vs. a list of Dutch words that violate various phonological constraints of English.
What is motherese?
A special register used with children which is characterized by exaggerated intonation, repetitiveness, short sentences, higher pitch than normal, and very clearly articulated.
What role does motherese play in language acquisition?
The exaggerated prosodic qualitites of motherese may provide children with info about constituent stress or other aspects of syntax, BUT some cultures do not have motherese at all, so it can't by necessary (or really doing too much).
What percent of words in normal speech are SW in English?
What are some statistical properties of babbling an first words?
Canonical and reduplicated. Monosyllables, consonant clusters, and liquids are rare. Few aspirated stops. Front consonants are more common. Initial C's are most often stops. Final C's are most often fricatives and voiceless.
What percentage of novel words are presented to a child in isolation?
Only 10%! (Alsin et al 1996)
A baby's first word is usually...
less marked, but most importantly, very high in frequency!
How many words do children usually know when they begin to acquire the phonological system?
What are some common phonological processes in early child grammar?
-substitution (i.e., stopping of fricative 'see'->[ti])
-assimilation (i.e., final consonant devoicing 'pig'->[bIk] and consonant harmony 'duck'->[gamma wedge k])
- cluster reduction (i.e., 'play'->[pey] and 'train'->[ten])
-CVC->CV (i.e., 'bib'->[bI])
-reducplication (i.e., 'water'->[wawa])
-weak syllable omission in WS words (i.e., giraffe becomes just 'raffe')
What are "covert contrasts"?
Spectrogram analysis often reveals that a child is producing contrasts
(Weismar1984) and entire parts of words (Ross and Masilon 1995) that adults cannot perceive.
What is Stampe's "natural" phonological rule model (a.k.a. ease of articulation model)?
Says that the phonological processes observed in child speech are 'natural' in that they make articulating and perceiving speech easier. In this model, processes are not learned, they are innate and must be UNLEARNED during the course of language specific phonological development.
What is some evidence against Stampe's ease of articulation model?
-a child's first pronunciations can be superior to later ones ([prIti] 10 mos, [pIti] 21 mos., and [bIdi] 22 mos.)
-children may mispronounce a word that has the same phonetic form as their mispronunciation of another word
Describe Jakobson's Markedness-based model...
-proposes that child's pronunciation fo words is restricted by an emerging linguistic system defined in terms of markedness, NOT by articulatory restraints
-Jakobson thought that some sounds/constrants are more "normal" or basic in the languages of the world and these sounds are more likely used in child speech
Jakobson proposed that...
less marked sounds/oppositions would be:
-more frequent in the world's languages
-acquired earlier by children
-better preserved in disorders
What is the frequency based hypothesis of language acquisition?
posits that sounds that occur with higher type frequency (i.e. in mroe words) tend to be acquired earlier than sounds that occur with lower type frequency
What is the parametric theory of syllables?
In respect to what types of syllables they allow, languages can vary from one another in how they set the following parameters:
-Are onsets obligatory?
-Are complex onsets allowed?
-Are codas allowed?
-Are complex codas allowed?

UG gives languages possible parameters and languages select from them.
What is the sonority hierarchy?

*children adhere to this hierarchy when simplifying consonant clusters
What is MLU and what can it tell us about morpho-syntactic development?
Mean Length of Utterance (in terms of morphemes), age is not a reliable indicator of grammatical development, but MLU usually is.
What characteristic's are common in Brown's "Stage 1" speech? What MLU range is it associated with?
-language consists mostly of nounds, verbs and adjectives
-function morphemes (such as inflectional affixes) are usually missing

*MLU of 1.5-2.0
What is a "U-shaped learning curve" and why do we see it in acquisition?
Children begin using a word in its correct form ('went' or [prIti]), then they learn the rule or start developing a phonological system and overgeneralize ('goed' or [pIti]), and then they eventually learn the correct forms ('went' or [prIti])