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Theory Of Language Development? Essay, Research Paper

Most theories of linguistic communication development have considered the affair from one of two wide point of views & # 8211 ; behaviorist ( linguistic communication is learnt by imitation, e.g. Skinner ) , or innatist ( peculiarly Chomsky, who believes that we are born with the necessary cognitive & # 8216 ; equipment & # 8217 ; to larn linguistic communication ) . However, these theories are non genuinely complete histories of linguistic communication development because they merely begin to analyze from the first visual aspect of words and sentence structure ; none considers how the kid gets to this phase. This is where functionalist theories attempt to right the balance ; by concentrating on the maps, or uses, of linguistic communication, they hope to understand why and how a kid begins to utilize linguistic communication. For such a theory to be valid, linguistic communication development must run into certain demands. The maps of linguistic communication foremost necessitate some making. Halliday ( 1975 ) separates the kid & # 8217 ; s vocalizations with two chief maps: mathematic, when linguistic communication is used to larn about the environment and linguistic communication itself ( marked by falling modulation ) , and matter-of-fact, when linguistic communication is used to fulfill the kid & # 8217 ; s demands and to interact with others ( marked by lifting modulation ) . He goes on to depict in more item the initial maps that linguistic communication serves in interactions: instrumental ( the kid & # 8217 ; s demand for objects ) , regulative ( the kid & # 8217 ; s demand that another individual do something ) , interactive ( such as recognizing ) , personal ( look of personal feeling ) , heuristic ( inquiries about the environment ) , and inventive ( for pretense ) . Jakobson ( 1960 ) efforts to measure up the maps of linguistic communication in a somewhat different manner, for illustration, the conative map ( when messages are formed to bring forth the coveted behavior in the addressee ) , and the phatic ( care of the channel of communicating ) . Functionalist theories are based on the premiss that the kid begins to larn a linguistic communication in order to carry through more expeditiously these maps of communicating, and that the kid develops structures out of these maps. The purpose to pass on is what provokes linguistic communication in the first topographic point, but McShane ( 1980 ) suggests that this purpose is non a & # 8216 ; crude & # 8217 ; within the kid herself, but within the child-caretaker couple. A functionalist theory would necessitate that such purpose is present earlier linguistic communication itself appears, and this does look to be the instance. Wolff ( 1969 ) states that certain forms of pre-linguistic weeping are systematically interpreted by the caretaker ; the kid learns that there are contingent dealingss between her ain vocalizations and the behavior of other people, and therefore learns to act deliberately. Herein lies the job: is this purpose witting, or is it simply interpreted as such by the caretaker? Ryan ( 1974 ) points out that much of what the kid utters in the early phases is hard to understand, if non uninterpretable ; it is merely that these vocalizations take topographic point in interactions with grownups who are motivated to understand them. It is even found that female parents endow the earliest vocalizations with values such as & # 8217 ; earnestness & # 8217 ; and & # 8216 ; consistence & # 8217 ; . It seems likely that the baby begins by doing unwilled calls ; the caretaker endows them with purposes, and when the baby sees that her calls are being rewarded she makes them with the purpose of having wages. Here, so, McShane is right in stating that communicative purposes are a primitive of the couple, instead than of the person. When the kid foremost begins to talk existent words, they occur singly, as what are known to many as & # 8216 ; holophrases & # 8217 ; ; cognitivists take these to stand for whole sentences, but functionalists ( such as Dore ( 1975 ) ) prefer non to concentrate on the impression of a sentence, but instead to believe in footings of & # 8217 ; address acts & # 8217 ; . Proposed by Searle in 1969, address Acts of the Apostless are the basic unit of lingual communicating, and include doing statements, giving bids, inquiring inquiries and doing promises. An vocalization can be divided into two chief structural parts & # 8211 ; propositional ( the conceptual content ) , and illocutionary force ( how the vocalization is to be taken ) . Dore ( 1973 ) elaborates on Searle by depicting one word utterances as & # 8216 ; crude address acts & # 8217 ; ( PSAs ) , which contain a fundamental referring look, and a crude force bespeaking device ; for illustration & # 8216 ; mama & # 8217 ; can be used to execute three different PSAs: labelling, bespeaking and naming. The constituents of PSAs finally develop into the propositions and illocutionary forces of address Acts of the Apostless, but merely after the kid has acquired most grammatical constructions of his linguistic communication. Speech acts form one of the footing of a functionalist theory of linguistic communication development, as they focus more on the purpose or aim behind an vocalization than on its grammar or sentence structure. One of the chief characteristics of functional theories is the construct of the infant-caretaker ( normally the female parent ) couple. The female parent has a important cardinal function in the kid & # 8217 ; s lingual development, as from the earliest minute she treats the kid as a colloquial spouse, e.g. tungsten

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hen she burps (Snow, 1977). By the age of seven months, the mother only responds to ‘high quality’ vocalisations, i.e. she is shaping the infant’s behaviour. From about one year, the mother is devoted to getting the child to look out, point and vocalise at the right juncture in dialogue exchanges and child and mother increasingly share attention. The mother also shapes the child’s language by modification of her voice and her speech: as Snow (1978) points out, the mother’s speech register is phonologically, lexically, syntactically and semantically different to when speaking to an adult. It is simpler and more redundant: it has a very low MLU (mean length of utterance), a very low incidence of subordinate clauses and a very high repetition of utterance constituents or entire utterances (Snow, 1976). Ryan (1974) categorises the cues that mothers use when analysing their child’s speech: intonation patterns; accompaniments of the utterances such as pointing and playing; and the circumstances of the utterance, such as feed time. Despite it sounding very complex, the mother takes on her role absolutely naturally, and this appears to be the most important single factor in her child’s linguistic development. The main function of this infant-caretaker dyad is to provide a social and conceptual framework in which the infant develops: the child learns what to say and when to say it. This is learnt partly through play, for example, ‘peekaboo’ teaches the child about turn-taking in social interaction (Bruner, 1975). The earliest means of interacting is by mutual gaze – even infants as young as two to four months can follow an adult’s gaze (Scaife and Bruner, 1975), and this can be used to direct attention. Stem (1974) points out that the mother is less likely to look away when the infant is gazing at her than when she is not. Gazing forms the beginning of a social framework, which is then developed by turn-taking behaviours, which Sacks et al (1974) organise into two parts: (1) a turn-constructional component, whose basic factors are those relevant to organisation of speech within a speaking turn. (2) a turn-allocation component, which may proceed either by speaker selection or by self-selection. Even at three months, mothers treat infants as if they are taking their turn in a conversation, by behaviours such as smiling or burping (Snow, 1977). It is found that the amount and kind of turn-taking affects the ease with which children realise the communicative intentions in their speech (Lieven, 1978). By learning the social convention of communicative interactions, the child’s progress into linguistic communication is facilitated, as she knows to what purpose language can be used. One of the main uses to which language is put is to differentiate among a set of objects, and to refer precisely to any one. This ability begins to develop very early, before language: the mother’s line of regard constantly monitors and follows where the child looks, in order to interpret his demands better and elaborate on what he is attending to (Collis and Schaffer), i.e. the child is indicating by his line of vision the object of interest. This stage is followed by the child attempting to reach out for the object, then (by eight months) holding out his hand in a no-grasping directional gesture (Bruner, 1974/75); by one year, the child is starting to touch the object with his index finger. Such activities are the functional precursors to naming, i.e. the knowledge that every object has its own unique referent. Nelson (1973) points out that one of the mother’s central aims appears to be to get the child to name things, by playing games such as “where’s your nose?” This is one of the ways in which social interaction forms the basis for linguistic development. The child is well-equipped with the knowledge of the social functions of language by the time he actually begins to speak; his limited system is gradually restructured and conventionalised by the imposition of syntax and lexicon, whose function she now comprehends. A functional theory of language development is very convincing as far as it goes, and its requirement (i.e. communicative intentions, the role of the caretaker) appear to be readily fulfilled. However, it does not really explain how the child actually picks up the grammar and vocabulary: knowing what they are used for is not enough. To achieve a full understanding of a child’s linguistic development, the theory should be combined with something approaching Chomsky’s transformationalist approach; this combination should provide the reasons why children learn about language, and also exactly how they do it. BibliographyBruner (1975) ‘Ontogenesis of speech acts’ in Journal of Child Language, vol 2.Dore (1975) Journal of Child Language, vol 2.Halliday (1975) in McShane (1980) Learning to Talk, Cambridge University Press.Jakobson (1960) in Bruner (1974/75) Cognition, vol 3.Sacks et al (1974) in Snow (1976) Journal of Child Language, vol 4.Scaife and in Elliot (1981) Child Language, Cambridge University Press. Bruner (1975)

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