Children's Language Acquisition Key Terms

An individual's own 'linguistic fingerprint'
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A variety of language appropriate to a particular purpose
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The smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language
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The study of the sounds used in speech, including how they're produced
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The vocabulary of language
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The study of meaning
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The way words are arranged to make sentences
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The are 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 one thing rather than another
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Language Acquisition Device (LAD)
The human brain's inbuilt capacity to acquire language
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Universal grammar
The explanation that all world languages share the principles of grammar despite surface differences in lexis and phonology. Sometimes called linguistic universals
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Phonemic expansion
The variety of sounds 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 so restricted that there is audible friction
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A sound made without closure or audible friction
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A vowel in which there is a perceptible change in quality during a syllable
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An invented word that has a consistent meaning
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A single word expressing a whole idea
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A form (especially a noun) used to address a person
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Content word
A type of word that has an independant 'dictionary' meaning also called a lexical word
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Function word
A word whose role is largely or wholly to express a grammatical relationship
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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 praise 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
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A feature of a child’s language where the word used to label is ‘reduced’ to include only part of it’s normal meaning
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A more specifit word within a category or under a hypernym
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Inflection morphology
The alteration of words to make new grammatical forms
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Derivational morphology
The creation of new words by adding prefixes and suffixes
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Mean length utterance (MLU)
A measure of children’s ability to produce stretches of language; the number of morphemes is divided by the total number of utterances to find the average length. A higher level of language proficiency.
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Copula verb
A verb used to join or 'couple' a subject to a complement
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Lexical items that 'point' towards something and place words in context
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Free morpheme
One that can stand alone as an independant word, e.g apple
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Bound morpheme
One that cannot stand alone as an independent word, but must be attached to another morpheme/word (affixes, such as the plural ‘-s’, are always bound, as in the comparative adjective inflection ‘-er’.
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Cognitive theorists
Those who belive that language acquisition is part of a wider development of understanding
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Virtuous error
Syntactical errors made by young children in which the non-standard utterance reveals some understanding though incomplete, of standard syntax.
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A learner's extension of a word meaning or grammatical rule beyond its normal use
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Stative verb
Verb that describes a state; stative verbs are not usually used in the progressive aspect, which is used for incomplete actions in progress.
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Dynamic verb
A type of verb that expresses activities and changes of state, allowing such forms as the progressive
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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
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Child-directed speech (CDS)
Any of various speech patterns used by parents / care givers when communicating with young children, particularly infants, usually involving simplified vocabulary, melodic pitch, repetitive questioning, and a slow or deliberate tempo.
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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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LASS (Language Acquisition Support System)
The child’s interaction with the adults around them and how this interaction supports language development.
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Object permenance
The awareness that objects continue to exist even when they are no longer visible
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The process of transferring a skill from adult to child and then withdrawing support once the skill has been mastered.
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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 value
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The study of the graphic features of the printed page
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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 especially in the early stages of reading.
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the strategies used to help decode written texts successfully
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Errors made by children when reading
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Cursive handwriting
Handwriting in which the characters are joined in rounded and flowing strokes
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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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Emergent writing
Children's early scribble writing, as stage of their literacy development
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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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QWhere part of a letter goes below the baseline of a font
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A graphic unit in which two symbols combine, or any sentence of two letters produced as a single sound, eg 'sh'
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Lexis that has the same pronunciation as another.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


A variety of language appropriate to a particular purpose



Card 3


The smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language


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Card 4


The study of the sounds used in speech, including how they're produced


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Card 5


The vocabulary of language


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