Child Language Acquisition Key Terms

An individual's own way of speaking also known as a "linguistic fingerprint"
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A variety of language appropriate to a particular purpose and context
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The smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language for example: The /S/ in sing = sss
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The study of sounds used in speech, including how they are produced
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The vocabulary of a language
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The study of language meaning
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The way words are arranged to make sentences
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The area of language study that deals with the formation of words from smaller units called morphemes
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The study of the sound systems of language and how they communicate meaning
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A stretch of communication
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The factors that influence the choices that speakers make in their use of language - why we choose to say something rather than something else, for example: Implied meaning, what we mean without saying the words
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Language Acquisition Device (LAD)
The human brains inbuilt capacity to acquire language
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Universal Grammar
The explanation that all world languages share the principles of grammar despite differences in lexis and phonology. Also known as "Linguistic Universals"
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Phonemic Expansion
The variety of sound produced increases
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Phonemic Contraction
The variety of sounds is reduced to the sounds of the main language used
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A speech sound that is produced when the vocal tract is either blocked or restricted that there is audible friction for example: B,C,D,E
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A sound made without closure or audible friction. For example: A,E,I,O,U
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A sound formed by combining two vowels in a single syllable, where the sound begins as one vowel and moves towards another. For Example: Loud
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International Phonetic Alphabet
Also known as IPA, it contains over 160 symbols to represent the sounds of spoken language
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Words that contain three or more syllables. For example: Hippopotamus
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Proto - Word
An invented word that has a consistent meaning. For example: Bot-Bot = Bottle
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A single word expressing a whole idea. For example: Drink = I want a drink
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A form used to address a person (especially a noun). For example: "Mummy"
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Content Word
A type of word that has an independent "dictionary" meaning, also called a lexical word. For example: Nouns
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Function Word
A word whose role is largely or wholly to express a grammatical relationship. For example: Auxiliary Verbs, Determiners
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Social Interactionists
Those who believe that child language develops through interaction with carers
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Positive Reinforcement
When a behaviour is rewarded, including verbal praises to encourage this behaviour to be repeated
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Negative Reinforcement
When an undesirable behaviour is unrewarded with the intention that it will not be repeated
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Those who believe that language is acquired through imitation and reinforcement
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A feature of a child's language where the word used to label something is "stretched" to include things that aren't normally part of that word's meaning. For example: using Dog to describe all animals
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A feature of a child's language where the word used to label is "reduced" to include only part of its normal meaning. For example: Only calling a duck a duck when the see it in a pond
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The hierarchical structure that exists between lexical terms. For example: shirt, socks are hyponyms of clothes
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A superordinate; a word that is more generic or general and can have more specific words under it. For example: Clothes
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Inflectional Morphology
The alteration of words to make new grammatical forms. For example: Adding inflection creating tense
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Derivational Morphology
The creation of new words by adding prefixes and suffixes. For example: Unhappy
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Mean Length Utterance (MLU)
A measure of children's ability to produce stretch of language; the number of morphemes is divided by the total number of utterances to find the average length. A high MLU indicates higher level of language proficiency
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Copula Verb
A verb used to join or couple a subject to a complement. For example Mummy is nice
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Lexical items that "point" to the time, place or situation. For example: Now, There
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Free Morpheme
One that can stand alone as an independent word. For example: Apple
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Bound Morpheme
One that cannot stand alone as an independent word, but must be attached to another morpheme or word. For example: The adjective inflection "er"
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Cognitive Theorists
Those who believe that language acquisition is part of a wider development of understanding
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Virtuous Error
Syntactic errors made by young children in which the non-standard utterance revels some understanding but not complete understanding. For example: "I runned"instead of "I ran"
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A learner's extension of a word meaning or grammatical rule beyond its normal use. For example: "Mouses" instead of "Mice"
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Stative Verb
Verb that describes a state or an abstract concept for example: Think, Love
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Dynamic Verb
A verb that expresses activities for example: Jump
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Egocentric Speech
The running discourse style of speech used by children where no listener is directly addressed and the talk is focused on the child's activities for example: a child practicing speech on its own
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Child Directed Speech
Any various speech patterns used by parents or carers when communicating with young children, particularly infants
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The development of a child's utterance into a longer more meaningful form
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The commenting on, extending and rephrasing of a child's utterance
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Language Acquisition Support System (LASS)
This refers to the child's interaction with the adults around them and how this interaction supports language development
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Object Permanence
The awareness that objects continue to exist even if the object is not visible
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Those who believe that humans have an inbuilt capacity to acquire language
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The way in which a text appears logical and well constructed
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A written symbol, letter or combination of letters that is used to represent a phoneme
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Words with very similar semantic meaning. For example: Funny: Humorous, Comical, Hilarious, Hysterical
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The study of the graphic features of the printed page. For example: Italics
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A system of teaching reading and spelling that stresses basic symbol-sound relationships and their use in decoding words; a system used particularly in the early years of reading. For example /N/ for Net
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The strategies used to help decode written texts successfully. For example: Visual cues in books are the pictures surrounding the words that will give clues as to what the story is about
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Errors made by children when reading. For example: didn't for did when guessing the words
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Cursive Handwriting
Handwriting in which the characters are joined in round and flowing strokes.
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Emergent Handwriting
Children's early scribble writing, a stage of their literacy development
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A process of linguistic change in which people adjust their dialect, accent or speech style to those of others, often occurring to express solidarity and understanding.
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A defined use of language as a result of membership of a social group
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The study of the use of letters and the rules of spelling in a language
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The typographical feature where a portion of the letter goes above the usual height for letters in any font
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Where part of the letter goes below the baseline of the font
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A graphic unit in which two symbols combine, or any sequence of two letters produced as a single sound. For example: "sh"
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A lexical item that has the same pronunciation as another. For example: See/Sea
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


A variety of language appropriate to a particular purpose and context



Card 3


The smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language for example: The /S/ in sing = sss


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Card 4


The study of sounds used in speech, including how they are produced


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Card 5


The vocabulary of a language


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