Grammar (CLA)

A set of revision cards with the key theories and concepts regarding grammar in child language acquisition

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Stages Of Grammatical Development

One-word/holophrastic - one word utterances - 12-18 mths

Two-word - 2 word simple syntactical structures - s/v or v/o - 18-24 mths

Telegraphic - 3 + words, more complex - s/v/o/ s/v/c or s/v/adv - 24-36mths

Post telegraphic - increasing awareness of grammatical rules and irregularities - saying 'runned' not 'ran' - 36+ mths

 s= subject    v= verb    o= object    c= complement    adv= adverbial

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Linguistic Universals - Chomsky

  • Universal features of all languages eg nouns and verbs(grammar) or types of sounds (phonology)
  • Chomsky says all children have an innate grammar
  • Therefore all children can acquire the grammar of their language
  • This is the Universal Grammar (UG)
  • It is part of the Language Acquisition Device (LAD)
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One Word / Holophrastic Stage Overview

  • Majority of words will be nouns (Katherine Nelson, lexis study, 60% of lexis was nouns)
  • 'Holophrastic' means 'whole phrase' - describes words which act as a short utterance within the context, not as a single word.
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Two Word Stage Overview

  • Child begins to combine words and learn standard English word order
  • Roger Brown's study of two-word sentences showed children from all oer the wrld make the same relationships between grammatical concepts.
  • He categorised these 2 word sentences as:
      • agent+action (the do-er perfoms an action) 'daddy kick'
      • agent+affected (someone does something to an object) 'me ball'
      • entity+attribute (describes a person or object) 'kitty big'
      • action+affected (an action causes an effect) 'kick ball'
      • action+location (the action occurs in a place) 'sit chair'
      • entity+location (location of the object) 'spoon table'
      • possessor+possession (someone possesses the object) 'daddy coat'
      • nomination (labels an object or person) 'that cake'
      • reccurance (an event is repeated) 'more ball'
      • negation (something is denied) 'no ball'
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Telegraphic Stage Overview

  • Child combines 3 words or more to make meanings more explicit
  • Function words ommitted but content words are used instead
  • Early in stage child leave sout verb inflections, auxiliary verbs, prepositions and determiners.
  • As child moves to the post-telegraphic stage, these functio words are used more accurately.
  • Questions, negatives and pronoun usage all develop in the telegraphic stage

(EXAM TIP: Don't discuss what a child can't do according to the transcript (the deficit approach) but suggest what the 'errors' show. Look for all the positives too.)

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Question Development

  • Rising intonation is learnt first.
  • Then the child begins to use the 'wh-' question words in the order:
      • what
      • where
      • why
      • when
  • Lastly the child inverts the subject and auxiliary verb e.g. I saw that? ---> Did I see that?
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Negative Development

  • Negation needs syntactic awareness.
  • Ursula Bellugi gave 3 stages for negative development:    
      • using 'no' or 'not' (negating particle) at beginning or end of sentence - no wear shoes
      • moving negating particle into the sentence/ correct placement - I no want it
      • attaching the negative to the auxiliary verb and using the copula verb 'be' accurately - No, I don't want to go to nursery.
  • David Crystal suggests there is also a pragmatic approach to learning negatives, for example when a mother says 'maybe' and she really means 'no', the child will eventually learn this element of negatives.
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Pronoun Acquisition

Bellugi gives 3 stages for children learning to use pronouns:

      • Child uses their own name
      • Recognition of I/me pronouns, and knows they are used in different places in a sentence
      • Child learns to use I/me pronouns according to subject/object usage. eg 'I play with the toy' and 'give it to me'. 

Pronouns are difficult because they express:

      • person
      • subject/object relationship
      • number
      • gender
      • possession
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Determiner Acquisition

  • Determiners are function words which appear later in development.
  • There are different types of determiners: 
      • Articles - definite article 'the', indefinite article 'a/an' 
      • Numerals - eg 'one'
      • Possessives - eg 'my' 'yours' 
      • Quanitifiers - eg 'some' 'many' 
      • Demonstratives - eg 'this' that' 'those'
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Post-Telegraphic Stage Overview

  • Child should acquire the remaining function words. 
  • Child should be able to: 
      • make complex and compund utterances by using coordinating ('and', 'but' etc) and subordinating ('because', although') conjunctions.
      • Manipulate verbs e.g. using passive voice (the object of the sentence has an action done TO it)
      • Construct longer noun phrases eg. 'the noisy red bus'. 
      • Understand that wrd order can be changed, and words themselves can be changed (morphology) 
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Morpheme Acquisition

  • Roger Brown found morphemes were acquired in a certain order: 
      • Present tense progressive - '-ing' 
      • Prepositions - 'in', 'on'
      • Plural - '-s' 
      • Past tense irregular - run-->ran 
      • Possessive - 's 
      • Unontactible copula - is, was 
      • Articles - the, a, 
      • Past ense regular - -ed
      • Third person regular - runs
      • Third person irregular - has
      • Uncontractible auxillary verb - They were running
      • Contactible copula - She's
      • Contacible auxillary - She's running
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Cognitive Theory

  • Piaget said children only acquire more complex forms of language when their cognitive development is ready. (Their brains need to have developed enough to understand the concept of the part of language they are learning.) 
  • 'Discovery learning' - learning by doing, was advocated by Piaget, who said that language doesn't shape thought, rather thought shapes language, allowing them to talk about what they have done. 
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Jean Berko and Morphological Errors

  • Jean Berko did a study into children's pronunciationa dn morphological development in th 1950s.
  • 'Wug' test - child presented with a picture, and told it was a wug. Asked how they would say 'there are two.......' 
  • 75% of 4-5 yr olds formed the regular plural 'wugs'.
  • Boys and girls did equally well - girls not more morphologically advanced. (But - Berko only studied morphology, not lexis, semantics, syntax etc. There could be gender differences in those areas.) 

(EXAM TIP: Make a link to gender, power or technology if you can. It's a synoptic paper, so drawing on your knowledge from last year will impress the examiners, just don't go off on a tangent!)

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