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Language lets us find the basic order of the world as well as the super order and the sub order Maybe we just notice the general similarities between members of a category There s a theory of memory that says that in our brain we have a prototype for each category the best or most representative member of a category Prototypes might not necessarily be the same as the archetypal examples of a category For kids to recognize things you d have to have an enormous variety of things Benjamin Whorf s linguistic relativity hypothesis says language changes how you think and perceive the world Language is a kind of extrasensory perception letting us perceive and understand more than what is normally possible Babies know all of the following before the age of 2 Phonology sounds of language Phonotactics combining different sounds and learning how the sounds go together Segmentation finding units in fluent speech The ability to segment speech occurs at around 7 10 months a Babies learn better when adults use infant directed speech the exaggerated musical style speech we have when talking to babies Semantics what the words mean Grammar the language specific rules for combining units to express meanings a Syntax the order of words going together b When children are first learning syntax they just say the words without any of the fluff like the and or has This watered down version of speech but still with the correct order is called telegraphic speech c The wug test is basically a grammar test that shows that 3 year old children can figure out how to modify words to suit a situation For example if a kid has an object and is given a second one they now know to say the plural wugs Several methods have made all the difference in understanding babies linguistic capabilities 1 Sucking paradigm giving children pacifiers to both entertain them and get their mouths used to moving in different ways so they can talk better 2 The headturn sucking procedure children respond turn head more to languages that they ve been exposed to English babies turn their heads to speaking English Japanese babies turn their heads to speaking Japanese etc 3 The intermodal preference procedure exposing children to pictures and corresponding sounds Ex hearing mom and seeing a picture of their mom If they linger on the picture longer it means they recognize what the word means Babies produce speech in a few different ways 1 They start with precanonical vocalizations These are nonsense cooing phrases that use totally different parts of the brain 2 At around 6 months the cooing evolves to canonical vocalizations and the baby starts babbling 3 Finally at around 10 18 months the child starts using advanced forms It still makes no damn sense but it sounds like speech Some words develop faster than others because of three factors 1 Frequency the more a child hears a word the faster they learn it However they might overgeneralize or undergeneralize what words mean 2 Social cues children who don t follow eye gaze such as autistic children have the 3 Heuristics different rules for what words might mean letting the children guess at most problem with language what unfamiliar words actually mean a The most common kind is shape bias where children think that different shapes alone determine words Because of this it can be hard for children to learn about the words for different colors b Another kind is morphology which is especially confusing for children This is when we change the suffix of a word to match context such as saying cutting as a present tense for cut Learning a second verbal language and learning sign language do similar things for the brain but with one major distinction because of the lack of auditory feedback deaf children never progress past the babbling stage of making sound and they actually stop making sounds after a while Scientists believe language is an innate module Children who learn a new language or learn new signs even if they re hearing have a larger vocabulary by age 2 and speak earlier These advantages disappear by 3 years of age

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Purdue PSY 23500 - Chapter 7 Child Psychology

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