A2 English Language: Child language acquisition

Revision cards on all the linguistic frameworks in order to analyse children's language acquisition.

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Lexical and semantical development

  • At the age of 2, children have usually learnt about 200 words.
  • The majority of children's vocabulary are concrete nouns, actions and sometimes interactional.
  • Underextension: When a word is given a narrower meaning than it has in adult language. For example, children naming their family pet "the dog" but not applying it to other dogs.
  • Overextension: When a word is given a broader and general meaning than it should have. For example, using the word "daddy" to refer to children's fathers but also applying it to other men and using the word "dog" to refer to other animals.
  • Hypernyms: broader meaning words belonging to a category, e.g. furniture, food.
  • Hyponyms: Specific words, e.g. Sofa, desk.
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Grammatical development

The Holophrastic Stage:

  • One-word stage: When the child is about a year old, they speak in single-word utterances, such as "mummy" and "milk". Sometimes, more than one word is used but is understood to the child as a single word, for example, "allgone".
  • Two-word stage: When children approach the age of 18 months, enter the two-word stage. The two words used form a grammatically constructed sentence, such as "Jenny sleep" instead of "Jenny is sleeping".
  • When children imitate their parent's speech, they tend to focus on key words and utter them.
  • Determiners, auxiliary verbs and prepositions are used.

The Telegraphic Stage:

  • Is a very rapid process.
  • From the age of 2, children begin to produce three- and four- word utterances.
  • A range of structures will be used, such as questions and commands.
  • Inflectional affixes are acquired during this period, such as 'ed' and 's' endings.
  • By the age of 5, the basic grammatical rules would have been learnt.
  • However, the passive voice still needs to be mastered.
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Phonological development

Phonology focuses on how the child speaks in terms of pronunciations, tone and stress.

  • Deletion: Final consonants may be dropped, e.g. the 't' in 'hat' and 'cat'. Unstressed syllables will be deleted, for example, 'banana' becomes 'nana' and consonant clusters are reduced, e.g: 'snake' becomes 'nake'
  • Substitution: Easier sounds are used instead of difficult ones. For example, the 'r' in 'rock' and 'story' becomes a 'w', therefore, making it become "wock' or 'stowy'.
  • Assimilation: When different sounds in a word are pronounced in the same way, e.g. 'dog' becomes 'gog'
  • Berko and Brown: Investigated into child language acquisition and found out that similar pronunciations were indistinguishable to children and could still point to pictures of the objects in a comprehension task.
  • Intonation: Children can alter their tone and rhythm of their voices before they can speak, for example, in questions, demands, greetings. Children may say "MY car" by putting emphasis on the personal pronoun just shows that the car belongs to the child.
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correction. Reduplication is when whole sylabbles are repeated E.g Mama. Dada.. what you have up there for reduplication is in fact assimilation. Please do ignore me if im wrong but yeh.. this slide iss goood gotta rate it

Susmi P


Well spotted! Thanks, I've just changed it...



Really good but, on my screen, on the last 2 pages, the text goes on but the bottom of the box cuts it off so i cant read it.. Thanks though.

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