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LING 3P61 - September 24, 2014


Contd from lecture #3
Assumption that children are born with a categorical perception of sound
We dont know whether its essential for language acquisition or if its just
learned in phonemes, syllables or words?
They can tell the difference in words differing in # of syllables AND
phonemes, but they cant tell words differing only in # of phonemes
***babies process/learn words in syllable chunks***
6 month old babies can tell the difference between du and ba...but when put
in words not as muchand even less so in complex strings
Speech strings are a jumble for children but prosodic and melodic features
may help
IDS = Infant Directed Speech (also known as CDS [child directed speech],
motherese, parentese)
Speak to children differentlymodified
Sing-song voice that makes speech more audible = variable intonation
Uses real-life articles for learning = the HERE and NOW = talk about present
Say the words and phrases many times = repetition
Overall a higher pitch
Long pauses and prolonged syllables
Simple vocabulary
Sounds are prototypical = clear
Exaggerating normal intonation contours
*Children prefer IDS to ADS = studies in head turning tests show preference
This is true across languages too
Why do they like it?
Just hearing pitch contours alone is sufficiently appealing = linked to positive,
warm characteristics such as the nurturing sounds of their mothers
Good feelings = they felt as though they were doing something right!
Link = warm positive feelings
Benefit of IDS = the melody provides a way to break children into language =
prosodic bootstrapping
1. May help infants to isolate words and break into speech

LING 3P61 - September 24, 2014

2. Makes content of meaning of what adults are saying make sense = Accessible

Not all cultures use IDS

Significance of IDS for language learning?

Infants may acquire language at a slightly faster pace than those who are not
exposed to IDS
Modify speech signal that children are exposed to
Adults provide less errors
SYNTACTIC BOOTSTRAPPING = repeated exposure to patternse.g. You verb it, The
noun is
PROSODY = intonation and pausing
Prosodic Bootstrapping = more stress on content words
Adults put stress on first syllable of noun and on second syllable of verb
*These all give clues to babies/infants
Negative Feedback = giving someone evidence that theyve said something wrong
Parents dont correct syntactic errors BUT they subtly provide cues that they
have made an error
If the child is correct = parents repeat what child just said verbatim
If the child incorrect = parents repeat childs utterance in the correct form
But do children make good use of this feedback???
Maternal Responsivity =
The way that moms respond to their babies aids their development
Link between responsivity and language acquisition
Infants with responsive moms cried less than other babies = infants were
more communicative
WHY??? = infants developed secure/warm/affectionate relationship with their
OR maybe it is just simply that the mom is a hands on mom and so takes on the
responsibility for their childs learning = regardless of the childs cryingthey are
just communicative because of such hands on nurturing
1. Contingent Utterances = related to vocabulary growth
2. Amount of Speech = vocabulary development
3. # of different words used = vocab
4. Grammatical structures = vocab
5. Complexity of grammar = vocab
6. # of conversational exchange = vocab
Best known studies to illustrate environmental factors = (Hart & Risley, 1995)

LING 3P61 - September 24, 2014

Went into homesstudied socioeconomic status differences
Found link between SES and language acquisition
By 3 years = higher SES kids heard 30 million more words than lower SES
SES kids had 1000 words and lower SES kids 500
Kids know that things are separate entities
12 months old responded like adults
**significant relationship = this is the same age they produce their first word
What kind of mechanisms do children have to acquire language?
1. Saffran et. Al (1996)
Concluded that maybe babies are statistical learners AND
sophisticated learners
2. Marcus et. Al (1999)
Babies preferred to listen to new syllables = ABB pattern
This tells us thatbabies are rule learners
Learn abstract PATTERNS (ABA not just gatiga) that can be applied to
new sounds
Language acquisition may be fundamentally about learning rules
MEMORY & ATTENTION = non-word repetition task
**Phonological Memory = The capacity to remember new sound sequences**
Some kids with better memory = acquire language faster
Accuracy in completing tasks = linked to vocab and grammar
**Important for language acquisition
Executive Functions = the ability to use more than one skill at the same time
Sample task = say whether sentence is T/F? AND remember the last word =
they have to juggle different cognitive tasks at the same time