Section A: First language acquisition
Section B: A system of signs for human communication
Section C: Learning English
Section D: Morphology and Word Formation Processes
Section E: Phonetics and Phonology
Section A: First language acquisition
Between eighteen months and four years of age every child has an innate ordering device available for learning languages, called the language acquisition device. The child’s linguistic development depends on the interactive and inseparable influences of maturation and learning.
In nearly all cases, children's language development follows a predictable sequence. There is however a great deal of variation in the age at which children reach a given milestone. Each child's development is usually characterized by a steady achievement of particular abilities. Language and speech development is a slow and difficult process which a young child has to master. The ability to acquire language and speech is located in the left hemisphere of the human brain.
At birth a baby can respond to auditory stimulation. Within a few minutes after birth they can locate sound. At the age of two weeks a baby can distinguish between the human voice and other sounds. After two months a baby can link particular emotions to the voices they hear. Stage one of language acquisition deals with babies from birth to eight weeks and the second stage deals with babies from two to three months. Stages one and two both fall under prelinguistic speech meaning that speech develops simultaneously with language comprehension.
In stage 1 babies make basic biological noises, undifferentiated crying or reflexive vocalisation result in some form of discomfort(crying and fussing), along with sounds produced as a by-product of reflexive actions ( hunger, pain, discomfort) or vegetative actions such as coughing, sucking, swallowing and burping. The baby uses this form of crying as a means of communicating with their mother to make her aware of his needs.
Differentiated crying is used by babies after the first month. One can distinguish between the different kinds of crying by listening to the pitch reflecting different emotional states. Cooing is evident at the age of six weeks by using their speech organs. Babies coo when they are happy. The utterances of vowel sounds become part of the child’s expression of satisfaction. During the period from about 2-4 months, infants begin making "comfort sounds", typically in response to pleasurable interaction with a caregiver. The earliest comfort sounds may be grunts or sighs, with later versions being more vowel-like "coos". Laughter appears around 4 months. All babies around the world cry the same way. In the second stage we find the following prelinguistic speech; babbling, lallation or imperfect imitation and echolalia or the imitation of others.
Babbling starts at around three to four months when the baby starts to repeat a variety of simple consonants and vowel sounds. These sound repetitions mostly occur when the baby is alone and content. Examples ma-ma-ma-ma, da-da-da-da, pa-pa-pa-pa. A deaf baby also develops up to this stage, after which he stops repeating sounds because he cannot hear himself. Babies initially babble for the sheer pleasure of it, but later they react to their environment.
Infants normally engage in vocal play, manipulating pitch (to produce "squeals" and "growls"), loudness (producing "yells"), and also manipulating tract closures to produce friction noises, nasal murmurs, "raspberries" and "snorts".
Lallation or imperfection imitation occurs during the second half of the first year. Babies appear to become aware of the sounds around them. They listen to the sounds around them and once it becomes quiet they start imitating and repeating the sounds they have heard. At about seven months, babbling appears: infants start to make extended sounds that...
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3. 2013 EED201J Assignment 2
4. Language Acquisition: UNISA study material for the module EDT 101G
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