Chapter+8+-+Language+Acquisition

Chapter 8 Language - 8 Language Acquisition"Lahwaah buwhabuwhaah guUygah abawaa mey ayeeyaah Is that normal Cartoon by Mike Baldwin available at

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8 Language Acquisition "Lahwaah, buwhabuwhaah, guUygah abawaa mey ayeeyaah. Is that normal?" Cartoon by Mike Baldwin, available at www.CartoonStock.com
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8.0 What Is Language Acquisition? M any people believe that language is what sets humans apart from other animals. are highly complex and sophisticated systems. So how do we humans • manage to learn such complicated systems? This chapter addresses that question. The predominant theory assumes that part of our ability to acquire language is innate and that children learn language by "inventing" the rules specific to their language. When acquiring one or more native language(s), all children go through the same stages of language development: they start by babbling, then learn their first words, go through a so-called one-word stage (during which they can utter only one word at a time), enter the two-word stage, and finally learn the more complex structures of their lan- guage(s). Language acquisitiqn is not limited to children; many people learn a second lan- guage later in life. However, second-language acquisition can differ from first-language acquisition in many respects. Contents 8.1 Theories of Language Acquisition Discusses the innateness hypothesis and intrQduces a numberoftheories oflanguage acquisition. 8.2 First-Language Acquisition: The Acquisition of Speech SOllllds and Phonology Describes how infants perceive and produce sounds; discusses the acquisition of including babbling and first words. 8.3 First-Language Acquisition: The Acquisition of Morphology, Syntax, and Word Meaning Discusses the one-word stage, the two-word stage, and later stages oflanguage acquisition, and introduces phenomena involved in the acquisition ofword meaning. 8.4 How Adults Talk to Young Children Introduces various features ofchild-directed speech. 8.5 Bilingual Language Acquisition Presents different kinds ofbilingual language acquisition, discusses code-switching, compares bilingual and monolingual language acquisition, and introduces issues in second-language acquisition. 8.6 Practice Provides exercises, discussion questions, activities, and further reading related to language 310
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8.1 Theories of Language Acquisition 8.1.1 About Language Acquisition Humans are not born talking. Instead, we typically learn to understand language and to speak during the first few years of our lives, before we even enter kindergarten or grade school. Recall from File 1.2 that language is a communication system consisting of sounds, morphemes, words, and rules for combining all of these. The knowledge of these elements enables people to understand and produce sentences they may never have heard or uttered before. So how does a child acquire this knowledge? If krlowing a language were simply a matter of knowing a lot of words, language acquisition would just be a process of figuring out what the words were and memorizing them. Instead, childrenmust acquire a grammar with all its components and rules. How do children learnthese rules? For instance, how do they learn that the morpheme un-
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This note was uploaded on 10/23/2011 for the course LINGUISTIC 101 taught by Professor Anderson during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.

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Chapter 8 Language - 8 Language Acquisition"Lahwaah buwhabuwhaah guUygah abawaa mey ayeeyaah Is that normal Cartoon by Mike Baldwin available at

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