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Transcript of English
Unit 3A - Language Acquisition
Child Language Skills
What do children have to learn when learning language?
- To create individual
(the smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of language) and phonemic combinations (
- he study of sound in speech, including how the are produced)
- To use vocabulary of words and understand their meanings (
- the vocabulary of language and
- the study of meaning)
- To combine words in a variety of sentence constructions, changing word formations to express different word class (
- the way words are arranged to make sentences and
- the area of language study that deals with the formation of words from smaller units called morphemes)
- To structure interactions with others (
- a stretch of communication)
- The subtleties of speech such as politeness, implication and irony
- the factors that influence the choice that speakers
make in their use of language i.e why we choose to say
one thing over another)
THEORIST - Jean Burko and Roger Brown
One feature of child language acquisition is that children master language by making mistakes until they fully acquire the skills.
This trial and error approach is taken by some linguists as evidence that learning is taking place, but as you have seen, phonological development seems also dependent on the physical ability to produce sounds.
The following patterns have been observed in phonology...
THEORIST - Noam Chomsky
Believes learning takes place through an innate brain mechanism, pre-programmed with the ability to learn grammatical rules. He calls this the Language Acquisition Device (LAD - the human brain's inbuilt capacity to acquire language)
See's it as significant that languages, although they all seem different, many of them share similarities. He described this as Universal Grammar - the exploration that all the world languages share the principals of grammar despite phonology.
Supporting this, is the evidence that children from all around the world develop language at a similar rate. Children can acquire complex grammar at an early age regardless of their environment or intelligence.
These points all lead to Noam Chomsky's being correct.
Producing sound is crucial for any child as it helps them gain attention for their basic survival and emotional needs.
The 'cooing' and 'babbling' stages mark the beginning of prosodic features.
Crucially, early developments allow the child to increase he variety of sounds produced (
- variety of sounds produced increases) and then reduce the sounds to only those they need for their own language (
- the variety of sounds is reduced to the sounds of the main language used)
THEORIST - Alan Cruttenden
How are sounds produced?
Linguists have been interested in whether young children can understand the effects of intonation.
Intonation is important because it gives a listener clues to the meaning of the speakers message.
We often use pitch to signal our feeling (rising pitch might show excitement) or to give the listener notice that we are giving up our turn to speak (a rising intonation indicates a question).
Alan Cruttenden (1974) compared adults and children to see if they could predict football results from listening to scores.
He found that adults could successfully predict winners by the intonation placed on the first team, but children (up to age 7) were less able.
Types of early phonological 'mistake'
Sounds are produced by air from the lungs passing down the vocal cords. The production of consonant (a speech sound that is produced when the vocal tract is either blocked or so restricted that there is audible function) sounds is affected by:
- The manner of articulation (how the airstream is controlled)
- The place of articulation (where it occurs); to make sounds we can use our lips, tongue, teeth and the roof of our mouth, or combine these.
- If the sound is voiced or unvoiced (by vibrating or not vibrating the vocal cords).
The IPA chart shows the types of sounds produced - consonants, vowels (a sound made without closure or audible friction) and diphthongs (a vowel in which there is a perceptible change in quality during a syllable)
What are the main stages of language development?
Features - Sounds of discomfort or reflexive actions
Approx. age - 0-4 months
Features - Comfort sounds and vocal play using open-mouthed vowel sounds
Appox. Age - 4-7 months
Features - Repeated patterns of consonant and vowel sounds
Approx. Age - 6-12 months
Features - Word-like vocalisations, not matching actual words but used consistently for the same meaning (sometimes called 'scribble talk'). For example, using 'mmm' to mean 'give me that', with accompanying gestures such as pointing, supporting the verbal message
Approx. Age - 9-12 months
The pre-verbal stage
Lexical and Grammatical Stages of Development
Features - One-word utterances
Approx. Age - 12-18 months
Features - Two-word combinations
Approx. Age - 18-24 months
Features - Three or more words combined
Approx. Age - 24-36 months
Features - More grammatically complex combinations
Approx. Age - 36+ months
During the Post-telegraphic stage the acquisition of the key literacy skills of reading and writing start to develop.
Features - Sounds of discomfort or reflexive actions
Examples - Crying, coughing, burping, sucking
Appox. Age - 0-4 month
Features - Comfort sounds and Vocal Play
Examples - Grunts and sighs become vowel-like 'coos'
- Laughter starts
- Hard consonants and vowels produced
- Pitch (squeals and growls) and loudness (yells) pracised
Approx. Age - 4-7 months
Features - Extended sounds resembling syllable-like sequences and repeated patterns
Examples - Sounds linking to own language
- Reduplicated sounds ('ba-ba') and non-reduplicated (variegated) such as 'agu'
Approx. Age - 6-12 months
Features - Word-like vocalisations
Approx. Age - 9-12 months
Stages of phonological development
The different types of sounds produced
Researchers have looked at children's phonological errors to see how they link to their understanding of words and ideas, as well their ability to imitate the language surrounding them.
In a famous study Jean Burko and Roger Brown found that a child who referred to a plastic inflatable fish as a 'fis', substituting the 's' sound for a 'sh', couldn't link an adults link of 'fis' to the same object.
THE 'FIS' PHONOMENOM
Child - A fis
Adult - Is that your fis
Child - No
Child - A fis
Adult - Is that your fish
Child - yes, my fis
Once children can produce sounds effectively they can use these skills to form 'real' words that others can recognise By the first word stage, around 12 months, they have already contracted their sounds to those of their main langauge.
Initally, proto words (an invented word that has cn) have meaning for the child and their carers, but are less effective with ohters. So a child needs to acquire the vocabulary that will help them to be understood by a wider audience.
Together with vocabulary buiding, a chid needs to learn the semantics of wrds in order to link objects and ideas.
Rate of lexical development
THEORIST - Leslie Rescorla
Holophrases - a single word expressing a whole idea
Holophrases and one-word utterences are likely to develop either alongside or after proto words.
Katherine Nelson identfied four categories for first words
(things or people)
- Describing/modifying things
- Personal/social events
60 percent of first words were nouns (the naming group). Verbs formed the second largest group and were used with actions or location words like 'up' and 'down'. Modifiers came third. Personal/social words made up about 8 per cent of sample.
Child Language Skills
Vocative - a form
(especially a noun) used to address a person
Content word - a type of word that has an independant 'dictionary' meaning, also called a lexical word
Function word - a word whose role is largely or wholly to express a grammatical relationship
Social interactionists - those who believe that chid language develops through interaction with carers
Positive Reinforcement - when a behaviour is rewarded, including verbal praise to encourage this behaviour to be repeated
Negative Reinforcement - when an undesirable behaviour is unrewarded with the intention that it will not be repeated
Behaviourists - those who believe that language is acquired through imitations and reinforcement
It is common for children to overextend
(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) eg applying 'dog' to all four-legged household pets
Less frequently children underextend (a feature of a child's language where the word used to label is 'reduced' to include only part of its normal meaning) eg using 'duck' for fluffy cartoon ducks and not for brown ones in the pond
Categorising first words
THEORIST - Eve Clark
Eve Clark's study of first words found that children base overextensions on - the physical quality of objects and features such as taste, sound, movement, shape, size and texture
THEORIST - Jean Aitchison
Connected children's lexical and semantic development
Aitchinson's stages of children's linguistic development...
Divided overextensions into three types...
Once children expand their vocabulary, they use network building to sort the words. An aspect of this is hyponymy (the heirarchical structure that exists between lexical items - the link between lexical items. This can be divided into two parts, hypernyms and hyponyms.
Hypernyms - a word that is more generic or general and can have more specific words under it
Hyponyms - a more specific word within a category or under a hypernym
Example - 'clothes' as a hypernym and 't-shirt', 'top', trousers', 'vest', 'shoes' and 'jacket' as hyponyms
When children have a wider vocabulary (around 18 months) they will start to use these more accurately and precisely
THEORIST - Jean Piaget
He emphasied that children were active learners who use their environment and social interactions to shape their language.
Piaget linked linguistic development with the concepts surrounding the word's meanings, suggesting that children cannot be taught before they are ready.
Piaget's stages of children's linguistic development
The two areas of grammar are syntax and morphology
Syntactical advances allow children to...
1. Order words into phrases and clauses
2. Make different types of utterances (simple, compound, complex) for different functions apart from declarative (interrogative and imperative require a different word order)
Morphological advances allow children to...
1. Add inflections to words creating tense, marking distictions between adjectives, showing possession and making plurals (inflectional morphonogy - the alteration of words to make new grammatical forms)
2. Experiment with language by adding prefixes and suffixes to make up words and to convert words from one word class to another (the creation of new words by adding prefixes and suffixes)
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 length. A higher MLU is taken to indicate a higher level of language understanding
THEORIST - Eve Clark
Eve Clark's recent research showed that common adjectives such as 'nice' and 'big' are among a childs first 50 words.
However spatial adjectives such as 'wide', 'narrow', 'thick' and 'thin' are acquired later.
Explaining the meaning of spatial adjectives can be very difficult, this is why a child might some difficulty with understanding its meaning
- The one word stage provides the building blocks for syntax to develop
- The term 'holophrastic' means 'whole phrase' and is used to describe words that don't simply fulfil the naming purpose but behave more like a short sentence
- Having one word makes meaning a matter of interpretation, relying on others to successfully decode the meaning. The carers role is important in order to understand the child through trial and error
- Context can be an influence as the child may only use the word when in a certain place or when holding a certain toy. Prosodic feautures also have an impact e.g juice?
- This stage marks the beginning of syntactical development
- Once a child can join two words they can experiment and begin to understand correct word orders
- Roger Browns study of two-word sentences found that children of all cultures and countries make the same relationships between grammatical concepts
- This is when the remaining function words are acquired and used appropriately.
- The child can...
1. Combine clause structures by using coordinating conjunctions ('and', 'but') and subordinating conjunctions ('because', 'although') make complex and compound utterances
2. Manipulate verb forms for accurately, for instance using the passive voice ('The car was followed by the lorry')
3. Construct longer noun phrases ('the two big red buses')
Stages of children's grammatical development
From a theoretical point of view, look at Chomsky here. He believes that acquisition of language is built on universal factors - termed 'linguistic universals' . To him, learning language is far more than imitating parents.
- Once a child can combine three or more words they are starting to make their meanings more explicit
- Here function words are left out but content words are retained
- Early in the stage, verb inflections, auxiliary verbs, prepositions, determiners are all omitted. As the child moves towards the post-telegraphic stage, these function words appear accurately in utterances.
- Key developments take place in the construction of questions, negatives, pronouns and determiners
- Pronouns can be difficult to use accurately because they express many different things - person, number, gender etc...
- Ursula Bellugi found three stages
1. The child uses their own name (e.g 'Tom play')
2. The child recognises the I/me pronouns (e.g 'I play toy', 'Me do that')
3. The child uses them according to whether they are in the subject or object position in the sentence (e.g 'I play with the toy', 'Give it to me')
- Determiners are another function word acquired later in development
- Determiners are attached to nouns and are...
1. articles - 'a', 'the'
2. numerals - 'one'
3. possessives - 'my'
4. quantifiers - 'some', 'many'
5. demonstratives - 'this'
- Questions are a feature of early speech but in the one and two word stages, they are formed by rising intonation. Only later can children successfully create yes/no interrogatives because these involve changing word order and using auxiliary verbs.
- Other questions require 'what', 'where', 'why' and 'when'. This is the typical order of acquisition...
'What' - gives the child more words 'what doing' or 'what that'
'Where' - pinpoints objects can be found
'Why' - shows cognitive awareness and desire to learn
'When' - more abstract, time constraints
- The ability to use negation needs syntactic awareness
- Researcher Ursula Bellugi identified three stages of negative formations in young children
David Crystal added the concept of parents saying 'maybe' to children instead of 'no'. This is a feature they later learn.
- Moving from the telegraphic to post-telegraphic stage involves understanding that not only can word order be changed but so too can words themselves. A useful starting point is to look at the two types of morphemes - free (one word that can stand alone as an independent word) and bound (a word that cannot stand alone and must be attached to another word in order to make sense)
- Roger Brown found that morphemes are acquired in a particular order....
'Victuous errors' and overgeneralisations
- The phrase 'victuous error' is usually applied to the mistakes children make as they develop grammatically and it implies that children make choices on a linguistic basis and are therefore logical.But due to Enlish having so many complications, they seem 'wrong'.
- Linguists call some 'victuous errors' overgeneralisations (a learner's extension of a word meaning or grammatical rule beyond its normal use). Overgeneralisations are a support for Chomsky, as they show that children use langauge that they have never heard an adult use.
- Children often make an errors regarding verbs. For example the word 'feel' can be used in both an abstract concept (a stative verb - verb that describes a state) and in a tangible action (a dynamic verb - a type of verb that expresses activities and changes of state)
- Overgeneralisations were proven by Jean Berko who conducted a study into children's pronunciation and morphological development. This was the 'wug' test, showing a picture of one and asking what more than one would be called. Three-quarters of the 4 and 5 year olds chose 'wugs'.
- The concept of possession is another aspect of inflectional morphology that children need to acquire
- Pragmatic understanding, especially with regard o conversational skills, is crucial to children's language development.
- Pragmatics is about...
1. Implicature (what we mean rather than what we say)
2. Inference (interpreting what others mean)
3. Politeness (using the right words and phrases to be polite)
4. Conversational management and turn-taking (knowing when to speak)
Halliday's functions of speech...
Dore's language functions...
How important is politeness?
- Politeness is encouraged from an early age, for example the use of 'please' and 'thank you'. These are likely to feature in a child's first 50 words.
- Politeness extends to the way conversations are maintained, this links to Penelope Brown and Stephen Levison's proposed face theory. They suggested two main aspects of face in communicative interactions...
1. Positive - where the individual desires social approval and being including
2. Negative - where the individual asserts their need to be independent and make their own decisions
How important is context?
- When looking at context, ask these questions...
1. Who participates? (one or more speakers, gender)
2. What relationship exists between speakers? (family members, friends, carer and child, teacher and student)
3. What is the setting? (domestic, nursery, local environment etc.)
4. In what developmental stage is the child? (age)
5. What oyhrt factors might affect the data? (cultural influences such as books, television, social experiences)
Play and Language Acquisition
- Lev Vygotsky observed children's play and linked it to both cognitive and social development. Vygotsky also observed ow children role-play adult behaviours as part of exploring their environment.
- Catherine Garvey's study of pairs of children playing found that children adopt roles and identities, acting out storylines and inventing objects and settings. This is termed 'pretend play' and fulfils Halliday's imaginative langauge function.
The role of parents
- Baby talk relys on reuplication ('din-din'), deletion ans substitution ('ickle') and addition ('doggie') with the adult adopting child-like characteristics.
- Features of Child Directed Speech (CDS)...
1. Repetition and/or repeated sentence frames
2. A higher pitch
3. A child's name rather than pronouns
4. The present tense
5. One-word utterances and/or short elliptical sentences
6. Fewer words/modifiers
7. Concrete nouns
8. Expansions (the development of a child's utterance into a longer, more meaningful form) and/or Recasts (the commenting on, extending and rephrasing of a child's utterance)
9. Yes/No questioning
10. Exaggerated pauses giving turn-taking ques.
Competing Language Acquisition Debates
Noam Chomsky and nativist theory
Chomsky has changed his ideas over the years, although not from the core concept of children's innate ability to learn language (nativism). His focus is useful to explain grammatical development, but you can see that it does not go all the way to explaining other aspects of language.
Eric Lenneburg (1967) furthered the argument saying children have to learn language within the first five years. Case studies of feral children, where human input is limited, although language processes can be acquired, full grammatical fluency can never be achieved.
B.F. Skinner and behaviourist theory
Skinner's views have been largely discounted as a way of explaining language acquisition, although you might see parents do use reinforcement when speaking to children and that children do copy language around them
Social Interactionist Theory
This foregrounds the roles of both carers and children. Increasingly, linguists have seen how important the help and 'scaffolding given to children is, but it is still debated whether a greater adult linguistic input gives children an advantage.
Cognitive theories go hand in hand with social interactionist theories, as people see how adult input helps children's understanding. Much of the research into children's developmental stages provides a convincing argument to explain the maturing of their language. These theories emphasise the active tole of children themselves, seeing them not as passive beings in an adult-controlled linguistic world, but as humans who want to discover their surroundings and who;s language reflect this.
Unit 3B - Language Change Over Time
Two lingusitc approaches that are good to start with in Language Change Over Time are the diachronic and the synchronic approaches.
Diachronic Approach - the study of history and evolution of a langauge
Synchronic Approach - the study of langauge at a particular point of time.
Ferdinand de Saussure became interested in synchronic change and looking at language in general. He saw change occuring because of the way that language is continually being rearranged and reinterpretated by people. He also saw language as a structured series of signs with meanings - he saw one side as the signifier and the other side as the signified.
e.g. Signifier (picture of a cat) and the Signified (furry, purring, independent, cunning, hunter, playful etc)
Basically, implied meanings.
Changing contexts, words and meanings
Why does language change over time? It's all to do with people as they...
- Invent things and need words to describe them
- Change attitudes because of changes in society, or are influenced by others such as politicians and the media
- Travel to, move to, trade with or invade other countries
Linguists and historians have divided English into key dates and periods as a way to chart the main developments. These are...
- Old English (5-11th Centuries) the development of English from the linguistic of Germanic and Viking invaders
- Middle English (11th-14th Centuries) the mixing of French with English after the Norman Conquest
- Early Modern English (15th-17th Centuries) the continual process of change, as English discarded older forms of word order and word endings and added Latin words for new concepts and idea
- Late Modern English (18th Century - present) the age of standardised English
Migration, travel, the British Empire and globalisation
People move from place to place taking language and culture with them. Some of an introduced language is absorbed into the local one or, in the case of the British Empire, the introduced language (in this case English) can become dominant in the colonised countries - especially as the language of power and government. Countries such as India still use English as the language of administration.
English has borrowed many words from foreign countries to accommodate new foods and cultural experiences, such as: 'curry', 'tea', 'tapas', 'cappuccino', 'espresso' and 'pain au chocolat'
Globalisation towards the end of the 20th century further developed English into a world language with influnces from technology and American English.
War and Invasions
Science and Technology
The Norman Conquest and the Germanic tribes who invaded over a thousand years ago had a strong impact on how English developed - grammatically, phonologically and lexically. We now have a lexically rich language containing many synonyms because of the people that invaded. We wouldn't have words 'collateral damage', 'surgical strikes' and talk of an enemy being 'neutralised' without the modern lexicon of war.
In the 18th and 19th Centuries there were many scientific advances and so neologisms were needed to name the latest of these. Because of the Latin and Greek prestige, many new words were formed using these languages.
Trade, working practices and new inventions
Social, ideological and cultural changes
Throughout history people's occupations and technological developments have changed English. New words are needed to name inventions and to describe what you can do with them.
When looking at older texts it's easy to see that people had different views in social groups. We now discriminate less against certain groups within society now and this is shown in our language by being politically correct when discussing ethnicity, gender or sexuality.
The growth of the media and the ways they reach us - print, television, internet, mobile phones - has influenced language. Arguably, a more casual, colloquial and speech-like register had evolved as media styles become less formal.
New lexis is often introduced via the media to describe contemporary society and perhaps persuading us to a point of view. We now uses acronyms such as 'WAG' as influences of the media.
Social Networking also plays a very important part. It has made communication between a large number of people possible. Meaning more views and opinions are being expressed and argued. Topics of discussion and the lexicons used are influenced.
Exploring lexical change
How do we create new words in the English language?
1. We borrow them from other languages, either to fill a gap in our own languages, or to allow us another word for the same object/idea
2. We adapt existing words (using morphology) - either a lazy or efficient way to make a new word
3. We create completely new ones when we don't have anything that will do - probably the least common way
Neologism - describes the creation of a new word or expression
Overt Prestige - refers to the status speakers get from using the most official and standard form of a language. Received Pronunciation and Standard English are accepted as the most prestigious English accent and dialect
Covert Prestige - refers to the status speakers who choose not to adopt a standard dialect from a particular group within society
Where do new words come from?
Ways in which words can be created
Exploring Semantic Change
In addition to creating new words, language users are prone to recycling words and changing their meaning. Semantic change, or drift (a process of linguistic change over time) can occur:
- Gradually, over time, as old meanings become forgotten
- In response to a new context for a particular word, for example technology
- As current slang where a particular social group takes ownership of an existing word and changes it to suit
Semantic shifts occur when words expand and contract from their original meanings.
The process of semantic change
Key lexical changes across Late Modern English
- Science and medicine
- Classical language (Latin and Greek)
- Attitudes to class and social roles
- Industrialisation and new inventions
- Latin and Greek
- Science and medicine
- British Empire
- Technology (especially IT)
- World Wars
- American English
- Consumerism and leisure time
- Social attitudes (gender, ethnicity, sexuality)
- Youth sociolects and non-standard forms
- Ability to record speech
Changes in written style
Key Orthographical and spelling changes across Late Modern English
Reasons for orthographical change?
Why as spelling changed?
- The sound of English changed and so the spelling needed to too.
- Printing practices in the 1800s shaped the presentation of letters
- Printers wanted to fit words onto a line and so often shortened the word
- However, they did get paid by letter, so sometimes extended the word
- Text messaging influences include shortening words to fit within the character limit
- During Late Modern English, spelling was further standardised in dictionaries and spelling books.
- Prior to this, spelling had been determined by individual choice rather than commonly agreed rules
Punctuation has both grammatical and rhetorical functions.
However not all punctuation was used as we know it now, in texts from the early Late Modern period:
- commas are more liberally used to link long, extended clauses and full stops are not always where we expect them to be.
- colons and semicolons are common features to separate clauses, thus creating more sentence complexity
- apostrophes extended to signifying the possessive and to representing missing letters
- speech marks began to used to differentiate between speech and writing
- contractions occur in various ways
Nowadays we use punctuation differently depending on the formality of the text. In text messages commas and apostrophes may not be used, yet multiple exclamations might be a common feature.
In Early Modern English capitals were used at the beginning of every sentence and for every proper noun. They were also used for personified and abstract nouns and writers also capitalised any noun they considered important
By Late Modern English, the rules were changed to the ones we have today - mainly because 18th-century grammarians felt that the system was needed. So now capitals are only used at the beginning of sentences and for every proper noun.
Exploring Grammatical Change
Standardisation, a key event in the 18th century was a major factor for 'fixing' the English grammar.
Key features about the grammar used in older texts that differ from modern texts are:
Late Modern English: grammatical changes
Exploring layout and text design changes
- The visual appearance of texts has always been important
- Early manuscripts were often handwritten
- Printed fonts developed and mass production replaced the handwriting
- Graphic design has evolved through Late Modern English, really expanding with computer technology and the ability to reproduce photographic images
- Graphic symbols now have a semantic function, with this field of study being called typography
- Graphological features of 18th-century texts included the use of italics for stress but today we have great graphological freedom meaning we can adapt texts to suit a specific audience and purpose
- This is evident in text messages, blogs and entries on social networking sites
- Through this texts often demonstrate different types of power
- Influential power: power used to influence or persuade others
- Instrumental power: power used to maintain and enforce authority
Changes in speech style
Jean Aitchision says that this is a natural occurrence in all language. So why have speech styles changed? The main reasons for phonological change are the following:
- Ease of articulation: We often make spoken words easier by abbreviate. For example referring to a 'mobile phone' as a 'mobile' or a 'phone'. Some people would view phonological change as laziness rather than an inevitable process.
Even in the 20th century speech styles changed. In the early days of radio, BBC presenters used Received Pronunciation (the prestige form of English pronunciation, sometimes considered as the 'accent' of Standard English.
Convergence is part of Howard Giles' accommodation theory which centres on pragmatics and how speakers adjust their speech behaviours to accommodate others, showing their need for approval.
However, divergence is the opposite. This is when a person's speech patterns become more individualised and less like the others in the conversation.
Convergence and divergence can be upwards (towards RP) or downwards (to a regional or sociolectal variation)
This term was created by David Rosewarne and describes the effect of London accents spreading through countries adjoining them along the Thames.
It conforms to Standard English grammatically and lexically, but has distinct phonology. Another feature that distinguishes it from being just another regional variation is that, like RP, speakers from all regions use it.
Some key features are:
- glottal stop ('foo'ball' and 'Ga'wick')
- 'l' vocalisation, where the 'w' sound replaces 'l' ('foo'baw')
- yod colescence, another common feature of Estuary English, where the 'y' sound (as in 'yod') is changed because of the preceding consonant ('forture' used to pronounced 'fortyoon' and is now pronounced 'forchoon'
What may be happening is that the desire to accommodate other people's speech styles and dialect is levelling, whereby the distinctions between different accents and dialects are becoming less apparent.
Regional accents are often judged against peoples attitudes and feelings about them. Freeborn summarises them into three views:
- The incorrectness view: All accents are incorrect compared to Standard English and the accent of RP. Freeborn refutes this, citing evidence that accent's popularity originates in fashion and convention; RP became the standard because it had social prestige, rather than being more correct than any other variety
- The ugliness view: Some accents don't sound nice. This seems to be linked to stereotypes and negative social connotations, especially as the least-liked accents seem to be found poorer, urban areas.
- The impreciseness view: Some accents are described as 'lazy' and 'sloppy', such as Estuary English, where sounds are omitted or changed. Freeborn offers the glottal stop as an argument that some sound changes are logical and governed by linguistic views.
EXPLORING PHONOLOGICAL CHANGE AND CHANGING SPEECH STYLES
During Late Modern English the spoken mode had a rise in status and the sound of English was different in the mid-19th century.
The main ways in which spoken language has changed:
- Omission: where sounds disappear from words. Often this involves the clipping of the final consonant. In the example of the slang word 'hanging' (suggesting something isn't very nice) the omission can be at the beginning and the end of the word. Also, we tend not to pronounce the middle 'g', in the end referring to the word as 'hanin'
- Assimilation: The pronunciation of one phoneme is affected by an adjacent phoneme: 'don't you' is usually pronounced 'dohnchu' in natural speech
Exploring language standardisation
Language has been standardised in all the key linguistic areas:
- Lexis and semantics: Dictionaries have attempted to 'fix' the meanings of words or reflect semantic changes
- Grammar: Printing and prescriptivism have fixed some syntactical rules, captured in grammar books
- Spelling: Dictionaries, spell-checkers and the teaching of spelling rules make spelling more 'correct' and rule-bound than it used to be.
- Graphology: Printing has allowed for more uniformity and even cursive language handwriting styles are taught to children in school
It can be suggested that recent technological developments have affected language standardisation, with people making more idolectal choices over things like text spelling.
The drive for standardisation had been a gradual process over centuries enabled by printing technology and the establishing of a particular dialect (Standard English) for printed texts and assisted by crucial changes to English grammar, lexis, punctuation and phonology.
In the 18th century, at the start of Late Modern English, standardisation was more firmly established.
The 19th century simply built on the standardisation process and the mass education and literacy progammes reinforced the 'ideal' standards in written English.
In the 18th century, the age of prescriptivism, many writers proposed that an Academy of English be set up to establish the rules of English usage, although this never actually happened. The main fears were: the speed of change, the lack of official control over change and writers' disregarded for grammar and spelling.
In the 20th and 21st centuries there seems to have been greater informalisation, as few distinctions are made between the spoken and writen mode and non-standard forms of English (such as dialects or text language) are valued. The 20th century marked the popularity of the descriptivist attitude to language change among linguists, although other influential memebers of society (the government and the media) often offer a prescriptivist ones.
Changing attitudes and changing contexts
David Crystal, in Rediscover Grammar, sees what he calls a tridialectal future for us, an extension of bidialectism, where peop use thier national and regional dialect. He says that we move comfortably between three dialects in various situations:
- At home we will use the dialect of the region from which we come
- Traveling around Britain, for work or pleasure, we will use Standard English
- traveling around the world we will use World Standard English
Prescriptive and Descriptive attitudes
Prescriptivism - an attitude to language use that makes judgments about what is right and wrong and holds language up to an ideal standard that should be maintained
Descriptivism - an attitude to language use that seeks to describe it without making value judgements
Jean Aitchison posed the question 'Is our language in decay?'. She uses a series of metaphors to suggest peoples worries and fears about language change:
- Damp-spoon syndrome: Language changes because people are lazy, like leaving a damp spoon in a sugar bowl, which is vulgar and in bad taste. This view presupposes that one type of language is inferior to another.
- Crumbling Castle View: Language is like a beautiful castle that must be preserved. However, language has never been at a pinnacle and a rigid system is not always better than a changing one.
- Infections Disease Assumption: Bad/poor language is caught like a disease from those around us and we should fight it; but people people pick up language changes because they want to, perhaps in order to fit in
Exploring Language Debates
Unit 3A - Language Acquisition
When does reading
Official reading begins at the schooling age of 4, however, the child has already begun reading. Prior to this age, they experience many accepts of reading through their daily routine and cultural experiences e.g. signs, symbols, logos, names etc
Many baby and toddlers books aim to help with speech development by providing pictures for children to label objects and network build. These are often based around themes using hypernyms (weather, clothes, animals) and the relevant hyponyms (rain, socks, dogs). Nouns and adjectives are common word classes used in early books. Early books are designed to be read to the child, not to be reading them themselves and offer an enjoyable and shared experience. Reading schemes are different, although entertaining, they help the formal learning process too.
Jerome Bruner and
The Language Acquisition Support System theory explains how adults encourage children's speech by using books to interact with babies and young children.
He saw parent-child interactions were four phased:
1. gaining attention - getting the babies attention on the picture
2. query - asking the baby what the object in the picture is
3. label - telling the baby what the object in the picture is
4. feedback - responding to the babies utterance
What do young readers need to know?
Children need to understand that written texts:
- reflects the relationship between written symbols (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes)
- have cohesion, with different parts interconnecting
- are organised in particular ways, with chapter headings, page numbers etc
- differ in their organisation according to genre (e.g. fiction and non fiction books are organised differently)
- represent the original culture, following rules and conventions (e.g. reading from left to right)
How are children taught to read?
Cues children use
The 'look and say' and the phonics approah are two methods used in British classrooms...
The 'look and say' approach
Children learn to recognise whole words or sentences rather than individual phonemes. Flashcards are used for this method which individual words written on them, often put with a picture so that children can link the word.
Children learn the different sounds made by different letters and blends. Emphasis is on developing phonological awareness and on hearing, differentiating and replicating sounds in spoken words. There are two main approaches, Analytic phonics (to break down whole words into phonemes and graphemes, looking for patterns) and Synthetic phonics (remember the 44 phonemes and their related graphemes and recognise each one)
Early readers acquires many tools to help interpret written words, using cues to decode words and meanings.
Types of reading cues...
- Graphophonic - looking at the shape of the words, linking these to familiar graphemes/words to interpret them
- Semantic - understanding the meanings of the words and making connections between words in order to decode new ones
- Visual - looking at the pictures and using the visual narrative to interpret unfamiliar words or ideas
- Syntactic - applying knowledge of word order and word classes to work if a word seems right in the context
-Contextual - searching for understanding in the situation of the story - comparing it to their own experience or their pragmatics understanding of social conventions
- Miscue - making errors when reading; a child might miss a word or substitute another that looks similar, or guess a word from accompanying pictures
Reading schemes deliberately staged in difficulty to help children acquire and extend lexical and semantic knowledge, as well as developing grammatical understanding.
Key features of reading schemes are:
- Lexical repetition - especially the new lexis introduced in each book but also proper nouns
- Syntactical repetition of structures - usually subject-verb-object order and simple sentences containing one clause (early books)
- Simple verbs - single verbs d (i.e is) rather than verb phrases
- One sentence per line - helping children to say complete phrases
- Anaphonic referencing - pronouns (he/she) refer to the names of characters already used
- Limited use of modifiers - this make graded reading schemes different from imaginative stories where adjectives add detail and description
- Text-image cohesion - the picture tells the story of the text on the page
The stages of reading development
Jean Chall identified six stages of reading development.
Unit 3A - Language Acquisition
The stages of writing
This list outlines the stages of writing development:
- Letter-like forms
- Child's name and strings of letters
Children's skills start with putting a writing instrument on paper (usually crayons or paint). Images and shapes become words, sentences and then whole texts.
The term emergent writing is used to describe children's early scribbles or representations of the written word.
Ascender - the typographical feature where a portion of the letter goes above the usual height for letters in any font
Descender - where parts of a letter goes below the baseline of the font
From an early age children see specific writing genres, usually ones related to their own experience. Understanding register is important in order to meet genre conventions and children have to learn that vocabulary choices and grammatical constructions contribute to overall tone. Also the purpose of the text as well as the audience and the relationship between reader and writer. As writing matures, pragmatic awareness becomes more sophisticated.
How are genres used in children's early writing at school?
Joan Rothery's categories for evaluating children's writing
Kroll's four phrases/stages of development
Other genre perspectives
Britton's three modes of children's writing:
We all use many various spelling strategies to help us spell accurately.
The main ones are:
- Sound clues, sounding out the words to stress the sounds and separate syllables
- Clues from the word's meaning to make links with similar words
- Writing it down until it 'look' right
- Using grammatical knowledge to predict spelling (such as patterns in affixing to change word class and the common inflections/morphemes that are added to English words)
- A dictionary or computer spell-checker
Possible problems that occur are homophones - a lexical item that has the same pronunciation as another, yet is spelt differently
e.g. sea/see, son/sun, some/son, there/their/they're
Categories of spelling errors
The main types of spelling errors made by children:
The five spelling stages
Research has pinpointed five spelling stages, however these may be different for each individual
Punctuation and grammatical development
Britton's three modes of children's writing: