Language Acquisition Course Notes

Topics: Linguistics, Word, Language acquisition Pages: 21 (5365 words) Published: January 29, 2014
Course Notes for Language Acquisition

First month:

Lecture:

Terminology:

Communication: speech, language, hearing
Def communication: the exchange of information, with a sender, a receiver, and the information exchanged Many kinds of communication, it's a very broad notion
Examples: - Dolphins, Biological: parent cell, child cell; Machine: sonar, radar; Human: mass, morse code.

Human communication is said to be enhanced by the use of symbols. A symbol is something that stands for something else. What it stands for is its referrent. And the symbol has an arbitray relationship to its referrent. Example: 'cow' and the real animal. To tell us about a cow he could bring in the animal and point to it, but instead he can say 'cow' and we can picture it in our heads and his communication with us is facilitated immensely. Symbols provide us with a mental analog of everything that is.

But not all human communication is symbolic. It can be non-symbolic. Example: laughing. It is communication because it has sender, receiver and information. But the sender is directly communicating a state of affairs, there is no symbolism. A baby crying, same thing. Other examples: (the meaning doesn't have to be taught, receivers just know it instinctively), facial expressions and body language. Anecdote: a psychologist watching a line of prisoners said: look at all that depression. The prisoners were communicating their psychological state through their body language.

Some information can be communicated non-symbolically, but things like "I'm going to the store" needs the help of symbols, ie words.

Sign. Def: something that stands for something else, it is referrant, but there is a relationship between the sign and its referrent. Example: Signs for toilet in international airports. It resembles its referrent. (Not specific to one language.) Same for signs for handicapped facility. Crosswalk signs. Deer crossing signs; in Pennsylvania some of these have back end of deer with tail up, this signals to real deer that there is danger and supposedly they move on and get off the road. Signs are a little easier to learn than symbols. Has iconic relationship to its referrent.

Who would benefit from communication that is more direct, like using signs? CI people, demented, (babies?). SLP's use sign systems to facilitate communication.

Symbol vs Sign (arbitrary vs iconic)
Examples of sign language can itself be a sign or a symbol. 'diaper' - sign looks like pinning diaper; socks - like knitting, more symbolic, but if there is some resemblance, even after learning, and makes it easier to learn, then it's not arbitrary, so it is sign not symbol. B - symbolic, b to mouth for drinking beer - sign.

Language defined: a set of symbols and rules for combining symbols to send a message. Language is said to have a generative quality. Means with a finite set of symbols and a finite set of rules for combination, an infinite set of possibilities can be generated.

Speech defined: the use of vocal tract to send the language message.  Vocal tract: respiratory, phonation, articulation, all of it. Speech represents an expressive modality. The message could be sent another way. Writing is another expressive modality. Sign/gesture is another. Three expressive modalities: speech, writing, gesture.

Process: message in sender's mind, encodes it (formulate it as language) and express it, then another receives it and decodes it, (interpret). Receptive messages are: listening for speech, reading for writing, tactile for gesture/braille.

Linguistic Competence vs Linguistic Performance.
L Performance - behavioral; you can observe someone's performance in language. L Competence - everything someone knows about language, can't observe it, can infer it from their performance.

Example, follow a 2 year old around, write down everything they say. You know their linguistic performance. But you can only infer somewhat about their linguistic...
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