PLD Midterm Exam

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278 Terms



a verbal or spoken means of communicating

other means of communicating include: writing, drawing, and manual signing

voice quality, intonation, and rate enhance the meaning of the message

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a socially shared code or system for representing concepts through the use of symbols and rules that govern how they're combined

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considered subcategories of the parent language that use similar but not identical rules; all users of a language follow certain dialectal rules

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Do languages stay the same over time?

No; they grow as their respective cultures change

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Can languages become endangered?

Yes; the death of languages is not a rare event in the modern world

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the exchange of information and ideas, needs and desires, between two or more individuals

a complex, systematic, collaborative, context-bound tool for social action

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communicative competence

the degree to which a speaker is successful in communicating, measured by the appropriateness and effectiveness of the message

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paralinguistic cues

includes intonation/pitch, stress or emphasis, speed or rate of delivery, and pause/hesitation

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the use of pitch; most complex of all paralinguistic codes and is used to signal the mood of an utterance

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can signal emphasis, asides, emotions, importance of the information conveyed, and the role and status of the speaker

"You're coming, aren't you." (insistent statement, descending intonation) "You're coming, aren't you?" (Question seeking agreement, ascending intonation)

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employed for emphasis, often to convey importance and/or attitude

"You WILL clean your room" vs. "I DID clean my room"

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varies with our state of excitement, familiarity with the content, and perceived comprehension of our listener

faster = excited slower = bored

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may be used to emphasize a portion of the message or to replace the message


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metalinguistic cues

includes the ability to talk about language, analyze it, think about it, judge it, and see it as en entity separate from its content or context

helps us judge correctness or appropriateness of the language we produce and receive

learning to read and write depends on this

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properties of language

  • a social tool

  • a rule governed system

  • generative

  • reflexive

  • utilizes displacement

  • arbitrary

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linguistic competence

a language user's underlying knowledge about the system of rules

cannot measure this directly without the speaker performing in some way (answering questions, making statements, etc.)

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linguistic performance

actual usage of linguistic knowledge

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language is generative

it is creative and productive, from a finite number of words and word categories, and a finite number of rules

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language is reflexive

we can use language to reflect on language, its correctness, effectiveness, and its qualities

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language utilizes displacement

the ability to communicate beyond the immediate context

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language is arbitrary

there is nothing in word that suggests the object to which it applies

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three major aspects of language (Bloom & Lahey)

form, content, use

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including primarily syntax, morphology, and phonology

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essentially made up of the semantic components of language - knowledge of vocabulary, objects, events, etc.

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the realm of pragmatics; consists of the goals or functions of language, the use of context to determine what form to use to achieve these goals, and the rules for what form to use to achieve these goals, and the rules for carrying out cooperative conversations

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rule specific word, phrase, and clause order; sentence organization; and the relationship among words, word classes, and other sentence elements

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the system that is concerned with the internal organization of words

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smallest grammatical unit, and is indivisible without violating the meaning or producing a meaningless unit

dog = single morpheme, "d" and "og" are meaningless

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free morphemes

independent and complete within themselves

ex. "cat"

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bound morphemes

grammatical markers that cannot function independently; must be attached to free morphemes or to other bound morphemes

ex. -s, -est, un-, and -ly

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precede the free morpheme (un-, ir-, pre-)

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follow the free morpheme (-ly, -er, -ity)

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a system of rules governing the meaning or content of words and word combinations

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world knowledge

autobiographical and experiential understanding, and memory of particular events of your past

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word knowledge

what you know about the meanings of words; contains word and symbol definitions, is primarily verbal

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personal mental dictionary or thesaurus

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semantic features

aspects of the meaning that characterizes the word

"puppy" has semantic features of "young" and "canine"

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selection restrictions

prohibits certain word combinations because they are meaningless or redundant based on the words' semantic features

"a cat kitten"

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rules governing the structure, distribution, and sequencing of speech sounds and the shape of syllables

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the smallest unit of sound that can signal a difference in meaning

pea vs. sea

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phonological rules

govern the distribution and sequencing of phonemes within a language

without these, the distribution and sequencing of phonemes would be random/most likely meaningless

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a system that concentrates on the social use of language and on how you use language to achieve your communication goals

the overall organizing aspect of language

consists of:

  • communication intentions and the culturally appropriate way of expressing them

  • conversational principles or rules

  • different type of discourse, such as narratives and jokes, and their construction

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pragmatic rules

govern a number of conversational interactions in addition to expression of intent, such as the sequential organization and coherence of conversations, repair of errors, and communication roles

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what the speaker hopes to accomplish

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sequential organization and coherence of conversations

turn taking, opening, maintaining, and closing a conversation

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repair of errors

receiving and giving feedback, and correcting conversational errors (confirming vs. denying)

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communication roles

dominant vs. submissive, direct vs. indirect

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fluent in two languages; uses two languages on a daily basis

true balanced bilingualism, or equal proficiency in two languages, is rare

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nonbalanced bilingualism

an individual has a higher level of proficiency in one of the languages

more common

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dialectical difference

variations within dialects; often impacted by the following factors:

  • geography

  • socioeconomic status

  • race and ethnicity

  • situation or context

  • peer-group influences -first or second-language learning

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dialectical difference related to socioeconomic status

lower SES households use more restricted linguistic systems

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dialectical difference related to racial and ethnic differences

racial and ethnic groups can become isolated and a particular dialectal variation may evolve

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situationally influenced language variations

depends on the speaker's perception of the situation and the participants, attitude toward knowledge of the topic, and intention or purpose

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vernacular variation

a casual, informal, or intimate register

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style shifting

the variation from formal to informal styles or the reverse; practiced by all speakers

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a spoken dialect that overuses words such as 'like,' 'y'know,' 'whatever;' it is minimalist and repetitive

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messaging with a minimalist "code" that you use on your smartphone

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Standard American English (SAE)

an idealized version of American English that occurs rarely in conversation; Mainstream American English is used more frequently

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African American English (AAE)

relatively uniform dialect used primarily by African Americans

variations occur based on region of the US, SES, gender, and age

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linguistic theory

  1. interest in language development represents part of a larger concern for human development

  2. language is interesting and can help us understand our own behavior

  3. language-development studies can probe the relationship between language and thought

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interested in the psychological processes and constructs underlying language

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study language rules and use as a function of role, socioeconomic level, and linguistic or cultural context

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behavioral psychologist

minimizes language form and emphasizes the behavioral context of language, such as how certain responses are elicited and how the number of these responses is increased or decreased

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speech-language pathologist

may concentrate on disordered communication including the causes of the disorder, the evaluation of the extent of the disorder, and the remediation process

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generative/nativist approach

assumes that children are able to acquire language because they are born with innate rules or principles related to the structures of human languages

something innate or inborn guides a child's learning

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generative grammar

assumes that natural languages, such as English and Spanish, are similar to formal language such as mathematics

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natural languages

characterized by:

  • a unified set of abstract rules that are meaningless themselves and insensitive to the meanings of the elements they combine

  • a set of meaningful linguistic elements that serve as variables in the words

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Noam Chomsky

  • generative approach

  • "language acquisition device"

  • "universal grammar"

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language acquisition device

Chomsky's belief that children instinctively learn language without any formal instruction; children have a natural need to use language; in the absence of formal language, children will develop a system of communication to meet their needs

all children make the same type of language errors regardless of the language they use

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universal grammar

there are certain grammatical rules that all human languages share

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generative approach to language learning

to learn a language, each child begins with his or her innate universal grammatical rules and uses those to abstract the structure of the specific language they are learning

acquisition has two components:

  • acquiring all of the words, idioms, and constructions of that language

  • linking the core structures of the particular language being learned to the universal grammar

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generative approach theoretical weakness

  • explanations begin with adult language and builds backward

  • fixed or semi-fixed structures like "How's it going?" are not based on abstract grammatical categories but fixed expressions

  • idioms

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interactionalist approach

emphasizes the influence of a combination of biological and environmental processes on language learning

interested in language structure, but there is less theoretical commitment to language form and to ages of acquisition

two main interactionalist approaches are: Emergentism and Constructivism

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child-directed speech (CDS)

a parent's adapted way of speaking to a child

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thinks of language as a structure arising from existing interacting patterns in the human brain

  • our brains seem to naturally seek patterns in incoming information

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B.F. Skinner

well-known behaviorist

theorized that parents model language, young children imitate these models, and parents reinforce children for these imitations

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Constructionist approach

an Interactionalist usage-based approach that sees language as composed of constructions or symbol units that combine the form and meaning of language through the use of morphemes, words, idioms, and sentence frames

main point: language structure emerges from language use

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children attempt to understand the communicative significance of an utterance

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children create the more abstract dimensions

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Interactionalist approach theoretical weaknesses

  • does not account for the similarities of language learning and use across children

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language learning theory

a conceptual model that attempts to describe how knowledge is acquired, processed, and retained when we "learn"

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behavior learning theory

  • learning occurs when new behaviors arise or there are changes in current behaviors

  • this occurs through the association of stimuli and responses

  • stimuli in the environment can cause a reaction and elicit a behavior; responses to this behavior can strengthen or weaken the behavior

  • consequences that follow the behavior and increase it reinforce the behavior

  • consequences that follow the behavior and decrease it punish the behavior

  • B.F. Skinner

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operant conditioning

  • children receive "rewards" for using language in a functional manner

  • motivating operations, discriminative stimuli, response, and reinforcing stimuli

  • B.F. Skinner

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negative reinforcement

the termination of an unpleasant state following a response

strengthens behavior by stopping or removing an unpleasant experience

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positive reinforcement

a response or behavior is strengthened by rewards, leading to the repetition of desired behavior

reward is a reinforcing stimulus

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imposing an aversive or painful stimulus

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behavior modification

main principle comprises changing environmental events that are related to a person's behavior

includes token economy and behavior shaping

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token economy

a system in which targeted behaviors are reinforced with tokens (secondary reinforcers) and later exchanged for rewards (primary reinforcers)

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behavior shaping

the form of an existing response is gradually changed across successive trials towards a desired target behavior by rewarding exact segments of behavior (rewarding all behaviors then slowly becoming selective, etc.)

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behavior learning theory theoretical weaknesses

  • Chomsky: parents don't provide good models, children don't just imitate, and parents don't regularly reinforce the child's behavior

  • children cannot possibly imitate all the utterances they would later use

  • imitation fails to explain creative or generative grammar

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Cognitivist Learning Theory

  • concerned with the thought process behind the behaviors mentioned; changes in behavior are indicative of that thought process

  • humans don't just respond to stimuli, they process the information contained within; learning occurs through internal processing of incoming information

  • Jean Piaget

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Two assumptions of Cognitivists

  • memory is an active and organized processor

  • prior knowledge plays an important role in learning

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Jean Piaget

  • children use both assimilation and accommodation to learn language

  • children create mental structures within the mind (schema) and from these schemas, language development occurs

four stages:

  1. sensorimotor (birth to 18-24 months)

  2. preoperational (2-7 years old)

  3. concrete operational (7-11 years old)

  4. formal operational (adolescence to adulthood)

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  • the process of incorporating new stimuli into an already existing schema (idea); an attempt to deal with stimuli in terms of present cognitive structures

  • the way an organism continually integrates new perceptual matter into existing patterns

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the process of changing one's schema or create a new schema to adapt to the new environment

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sensorimotor stage

  • birth to 18-24 months old

  • infants learn about the world through their senses and actions

  • object permanence (8 months old), self-recognition, deferred imitation, and representational play develop

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preoperational stage

  • 2-7 years old

  • acquire the ability to internally represent the world through language and mental imagery

  • can think about things symbolically

  • thinking is dominated by how the world looks

  • animism: non-living objects have life and feelings like a person's

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concrete operational stage

  • 7-11 years old

  • think logically about concrete events

  • understand the concept of conversation

  • can mentally reverse things

  • less egocentric and think of how other people might think and feel

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formal operational stage

  • 12+ years old

  • concrete operations carried out on things; formal operations are carried out on ideas

  • can deal with abstract ideas

  • follow the form of an argument without having to think in terms of specific examples

  • can deal with hypothetical problems with many possible solutions

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Social Constructivist Learning Theory

  • a theory in which knowledge is constructed within social contexts through interactions with a knowledge individual(s)

  • primarily concerned with social knowledge and communication

important elements:

  • experiences are used by the learner to create a model of the social world and the way that it functions

  • language is the most essential system with which to construct that reality

Lev Vygotsky

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