Essay Theorists

Hallidays Functions:

  • Heuristic, Imaginative, Representational
  • Personal, Interactional, Regulatory, Instrumental
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Jean Piaget - Cognitive Development

  • SCHEMAS: Equilibrium > Assimilation > Accomodation
  • Object Permanence - Blanket and Ball
  • Egocentrism - Three Mountains
  • Number - Conservation
  • Abstract Reasoning - Pendulum
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Michael Halliday's Taxonomy



  • Heuristic, Imaginative, Representational

Social Needs:

  • Personal, Interactional, Regulatory, Instrumental
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Noam Chomsky

(LAD) Language Acquisition Device: All children are born with the innate ability to acquire language at a similar rate regardless of environment and intelligence. Supporting evidence includes virtuous errors, SVO sentence structure, and the application of inflections.

Nativist outlook

Universal grammar - all languages share similar rules

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B.F. Skinner

Language is acquired through social interaction

Operant Conditioning:

  • Positive reinforcement
  • Negative reinforcement


Criticism: all supporting evidence conducted on lab rats not humans

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John Dore's Language Functions

Labelling  // Answering 

Repeating // Requesting

Calling // Greeting

Protesting // Practising

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Berko and Brown

'Fis' phenomenon study 

Child can understand words before capable of saying them themselves

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IPA: International Phonetic Alphabet

Vowel sound = phoneme 

Consonantal sound = grapheme




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Katherine Nelson

Only applicable to children 2 years or under

60% of children's first words are nouns

Content words come first - naming and describing words

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Jerome Bruner

LASS: Language Acquisition Support System

Features of CDS: scaffolding, repetition, recasting, modelling, open/closed interrogatives, intonation, direct address, enforcement of politeness features i.e. turn-taking and face.

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Lev Vygotsky

  • Children learn through roleplay - cognitive and social development
  • Often referred to as sociodramatic play: reflects real-world behaviours and involves explicit rules
  • Observe and imitate adult behaviours
  • Exercising imaginative function
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Robin Lakoff (Gender)

  • Deficit theory - women are weak
  • Empty language (pretty, sweet, lovely, etc)
  • Tag questions
  • Hedging
  • "Women's work" words
  • Outdated/sexist -> challenge 






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Jean Aitchison (Informalisation)

Link to informalisation of language 

  • Damp spoon theory - langauge is deteriorating because of laziness
  • Crumbling castle - English language is crumbling over time
  • Infectious diseases - people pick up bad language habits when speaking informally and this affects language in a pejorative manner
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