Language And Cognition: A Developmental Perspective

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Table of contents 1. Introduction………………………………………………………..3 2. Summary of chapters 2.1 summary of chapter one ……………………………………4 2.2 summary of chapter two…………………………………….6 2.3 Summary of chapter three…………………………………..9 2.4 Summary of chapter four…………………………….……11 2.5 Summary of chapter five…………………………………..13 2.6 Summary of chapter six……………………………………15 2.7 Summary of chapter seven………………………………...18 2.8 Summary of chapter eight…………………………..……..20 3. General criticism…………………………………………….…...23 4. Research question inspired by the book………………………....24 Introduction The book Language and Cognition: A Developmental Perspective, edited by E. Dromi introduces eight chapters, which present the thoughts and studies of a group of psychologists and psycholinguistics. They discuss the relationship between language and cognition and add their own perspectives. The book has a variety of studies touching the topic of Child's language acquisition. Each article raises questions, introduces several theories, and gives food for thought. I decided to review this book because of my desire to learn more about the cognitive processes during the child's stages of language acquisition, and in order to enrich my prior linguistic knowledge acquired during my studies. Chapter one: Piaget on the Origins of Mind: A problem in Accounting for the Development of Mental Capacities. Susan Sugarman Princeton University The researcher says that Piaget proposes a radical thesis; all intelligence develops out of the actions of mere reflexes at birth. This is a process built up by stages; each stage leads to another stage following it, and that is how the baby learns to act in the world. The researcher argues that Piaget account fails because his theory does not explain how intelligence develops. Moreover, the stages suggested by Piaget could occur without mental developments. Piaget says, according to the researcher, that the mental state of babies is devoid of any impulse or experience, which is mindless activity. At the same time, basic actions associated with intelligence arise gradually because of mere exercise of the reflexes. Piaget states six stages of "sensomotor" intelligence, from birth to two years of age:  0-6 weeks - the usage of reflexes Voluntary behavior (i.e.: sucking, grasping)  6 weeks to 5 months - further enlargement of the previous stage, "circular reaction"(i.e.: bulging the cheeks, licking lips)  5-9 months - secondary "circular reaction". Children repeat actions in order to produce effects on the external environment.  9-12 months - intercoordination of secondary "schemata". Children are attempting to reproduce only a previously observed result. (e.g. pushing mother's hand toward an object to make her swing it.)  12-18 months - children devise novel means to solve a problem.  18-24 months - children would anticipate actions needed to complete a procedure, invention by mental combination. The researcher critiques Piaget's theory by saying that one cannot detach actions done by children from their mental capacities, they are not as Piaget believes mere reflexes. The researcher says that language also develop in stages and might also turn out to be epiphenomenal in the way that Piaget's stages may lie outside the central sources of developments. Linguistic behavior and spatial-adaptive behavior has to do with human thought similarly to first action of babies, both have stages in a clear order and both involve thinking. Chapter two: The mysteries of Early Lexical Development: Underlying Cognitive and Linguistic Processes in Meaning Acquisition. E. Dromi Tel Aviv University The researcher is looking for an answer to how do children acquire the conventional meanings of words. According to Dromi one view suggests that meaning is acquired gradually through a long process. It involves repeated hearings of the same words in different mechanism of pairing words with real world use. The second view claims that children are very efficient word learners. They induce meanings even from a single hearing of a novel word in a new context. Dromi's database for her investigation was the complete record of all the words that were acquired and used by her subject. Dromi used a handwritten diary, nine periodic audio recordings, and video sessions. The one word stage in the case of her subject took 8 month and 12 days during which words were accumulated at a nonlinear pace. An abrupt change in the rate of word acquisition was noted during weeks 25-27. The quantitative characteristics of Keren's (=subject) lexical growth was similar to other reports of children. Keren's continuos record provided strong evidence for a spurt in lexical learning several weeks prior to initial evidence for productive multiword strings. Dromi's observation of slowed rate of word acquisition suggested that lexical acquisition does not constitute a simple additive procedure. We can see that the contents that one-stage speakers choose are similar in many languages. Keren's real word comprised labels of objects and actions. Words acquired later were more generic (i.e. 'aba' + 'kapit'). Keren's lexicon and the lexicon of three other Hebrew speaking subjects included words for animals, food, toys, cloth, etc - even before they reached the count of 50 different words. The growing lexical diversity reflected by the use of semantically related words has to do with the child's general ability to form classes of objects and actions. Keren's complete one word stage included lexicon of 337 Hebrew words, and five classes of words. A number of words (45 of 337) were some times used ambiguously, for both actions and objects. There are four categories of extension behavior:  Underextention- words which were used restrictively.  Regular extension - words demonstrating flexible use for different referents.  Overextention - over use of a word for a class of referents. (i.e. 'tik'- for all plastic and paper bags)  Unclassified - some words were used ambiguously for actions and related objects.(i.e. 'dod' for all the adults) 66 percent out of the words in one-stage exhibited the behavior of regular extension. The other 33 percent showed underextented, overextented and unclassified behavior. Early irregular uses of words may have been associated with child's overall unanalyzed representations of early everyday experience. Dromi suggested that words exhibiting irregular, noncategorial uses should be termed - situational words. Braunwald (1978) called his daughter's irregular uses of words - multi-purpose words. Another issue dealt in the article is Cognitive and linguistic correlation in the earliest forms of gesture and verbal communication that occur within repeated contexts of everyday experiences. According to Mandler, schematic and categorical structures co-exist in humans and serve different cognitive functions. A complex interaction between several major factors determined the initial mapping of a word and the path it took towards conventional meaning. Harris found that mothers' modeling behaviors that were consistent across time could be successfully predicted from the child's records. According to Naigles linguistic design guides the young child's attempts to acquire conventional meanings. Dromi assumes that verbs were mapped more effectively than nouns since they were modeled within syntactic frames. Chapter three: Ways in Which Children Constrain Word Meanings. Ellen M. Markman Stanford University According to Carey (1978) children by the age of six learned 9,000-14,000 words. Dromi (1987) reports that at some point the child acquire new vocabulary at the rate of 45 words a week. The traditional assumption is that children form categories and acquire category terms by all-purpose inductive mechanism. This theory assumes that concept learning begins by the learner encountering a positive exemplar of the category. One way in which children may constrain the meaning of words is the taxonomic assumption. For example, a dog can be a proper name or it could mean furry or brown. Children are often more interested in the thematic relations among objects than among taxonomic relations. The studies of Markman and Hutchinson tested both the taxonomic assumption and the whole object assumption: children should interpret novel labels as labels for objects of the same type rather than objects that are thematically related. Markman had two conditions in her study:  No-word condition  Novel-word condition In both conditions children were first shown a target picture and then two other pictures and had to select one of them as being the same as the target. When children in the no-word condition had to select between another member of the same superordinate category and a thematically related object, they often chose the thematic relation. They selected the other category member a mean of only 37% of the time. When the target picture was labeled with an unfamiliar word children were more likely to select categorically. They chose the other category member a mean of 63% of the time. Children may constrain word meanings assuming that words are mutually exclusive, thus, each object will have only one label. Mutual exclusivity is related to several principles in language acquisition. For example, Slobin's (1973) principle of one-to-one mapping, Pinker's (1984) Uniqueness principal, and Clark's (1983, 1987) Principle of Lexical Contrast. The taxonomic assumption predicts that children in the unfamiliar condition would treat the novel terms similarly to how they interpret known object labels and differently from how they interpret known part terms. The mutual exclusivity assumption predicts that children in the familiar condition would treat the novel terms differently from how they interpret known object labels, and similarly to how they interpret known part items. The results in the study of labeling object and parts of objects support the mutual exclusivity hypothesis. Chapter four: Ontology and Meaning - Two Constrasting Views. Susan Carey MIT The whole object assumption limits hypotheses of the meaning of the word 'cup' to those that include whole cups in the extension of the word. The taxonomic assumption limits the hypotheses of 'cup' to taxonomic categories including cups. These two assumptions constitute the following procedure for meaning constraining of newly heard noun. Procedure 1 has to steps; one tests if the speaker could be talking about a solid object. The second step, conclude the word refers to individual whole objects of the same type as the referent. Two questions are raised by the denial that procedure 1 plays a role in early word learning. The first is that of specifying what early word meanings are like. The second is that of accounting for a change between the early procedures children use and the later ones. Quine proposes that all early words function most like mass nouns in the child's conceptual system. For example 'book' refers to portions of book experience or stuff. Quine denies procedure 1 to young children and suggested procedure 0. Procedure 0 is when the infant concludes that the word refers to aspects of the world that share salient properties of the perceptual experience when the word is used. There are at least two reasons why infants might follow procedure 0 and not procedure 1. One, the infant's conceptual system does not yet represent the word in terms of kinds of physical objects. Second, the infant has not yet learned that words refer to entities. Carey wanted to determine if the referent's status as a physical object affects the similarity relations that determine the taxonomic category posited by the child, on first hearing of a word, before the child commands the quantificational system of English. Procedure 2 has two steps; one, tests to see if the speaker could be talking about a nonsolid substance. The second step, conclude the word refers to portion of the same type as the referent. Children differed in their command of count-mass syntax, from omission of determiners and quantifiers on all nouns to quite a bit of selective use of count noun frames with count nouns. The present studies show that within the linguistic category "common noun" at ages 2:0 the syntactic context (mass or count) in which a new noun occurs does not affect the child's hypotheses about its meaning. However it indicates that the referent's ontological status seems to determine the child's hypotheses. Landau et al. Claim that adults like children ignore ontological categories in their inductive projection of noun meanings. They suggest that adults like children determine noun meanings by shape, irrespective of the ontological categories to which the noun's referents belong. Soja's studies show that 2-year-old children ignore the shape of nonsolid substance in their hypotheses on the meaning if newly heard nouns. Dickinson (1988) looked at 3-5 years old and adults, says that shape cannot be the general taxonomic basis for noun categories, because of substances and abstract entities that are distinguished by shape. Chapter five: Children acquire Word Meaning Components from Syntactic Evidence. Letita Naigles Henry Gleitman Yale University Lila Gleitman University of Pennsylvania There are difficulties in explaining all of word meaning acquisition as a projection from observed situation. Recent discussions indicate that children may have another rich body of information from which they deduce word meanings, and verifying syntactic positions in which the meaningfully distinct words appear. For example, the fact that 'dog' is a substance and 'walk' an act are inferred in part by observing that the former word occurs as a noun and the later as a verb. The researchers suggest that acquiring the word meanings solely from the observation of events would require unrealistic extensive storage and manipulation of categorized event. Furthermore, children can extract the surface structures from prosodic clues; they realize at least some of the correlations between the forms and the meanings. In their studies the researchers found that language learners use structural properties of the speech stream as evidence for constructing the meanings of verb vocabulary items. In about 70 percent of the interpretable responses, the children complied with the demands of new structures by deducing appropriate new interpretations. Learners will bootstrap form from meaning. The researchers believe that there is no effective procedure for learning the word meanings solely by inspection of syntactic environments. Since, many semantic properties are not syntactically encoded in the first place, and there are plenty of complications in the syntactic encodings themselves. Chapter six: Competence and Performance in Child Language. Stephen Crain Janet Fodor University of Connecticut Graduate Center And Haskins Laboratories City University of New York The researchers checked which properties of human language are innately determined. Universal properties of human languages are plausibly taken to be innately determined. The researchers argue that the experimental data do not demonstrate a lack of linguistic knowledge. They studied mistakes done by children and found out that in many cases it is the nonsyntactic demands of the task that causes children's errors. The researchers isolated several components of language skills in order to clarify the relationship between innateness and early linguistic knowledge. Three factors that influenced performance in syntactic tasks:  Plans- Formulating action plans in order to obey an imperative or act out the content of a declarative sentence may be a possible source of poor performance by children. Since, it is a skill that makes demands on memory and computational resources.  Parsing- Complex task involving decision strategies that favor one structural analysis.  Presupposition- The variety of pragmatic considerations taken out from linguistic cues. The following components were examined:  Subjacency - It prohibits extraction of constituents from various constructions, including relative clauses. Otsu (1981) suggested that the innateness of Subjacency could be salvaged by showing that children who appeared to violate Subjacency had not yet mastered the phrase structure of relative clauses. The results of the experiment showed that adults gave sujacency violating responses to 29% of the relative clause construction, slightly higher rate than the 25% for Otsu's child subjects.  Backward pronominalization - The innateness hypothesis suggests that children's earliest grammars should also exhibit structure dependence, even if their linguistic experience happens to be equally compatible with structure independent hypotheses. The results show that children have early knowledge of the absence of linear sequence conditions on pronominalization, and of the existence of structural conditions such as command.  Subject/Auxiliary inversion - A study by Crain and Nakayama (1987) explored the relationship between children's errors in accession tasks and sentence processing problems. The innateness hypothesis predicts that children never produced an incorrect sentence like: *Is the men who running is bald? The findings of the study give support to the view that the initial state of the human language faculty contains structure-dependence as an inherent property.  Relative clauses - Coordination may be innately favored over subordination, relative clause constructions are very close to the "core". Therefore, ignorance of relative clauses until age 6 would stretch the innateness hypothesis. Hamburger and Crain (1982) showed that the source of children's performance errors on the task (conjoined clauses) is not a lack of syntactic knowledge. Children grasp the structure and meaning of relative clause constructions quite early in the course of language acquisition, as would expected from the central position of these constructions in natural language.  Temporal terms - Children are highly sensitive to pragmatic infelicities, their linguistic knowledge can be accurately appraised only by tests which include controls that they are not penalized by their knowledge of pragmatic principles. The researchers also investigated sentence production of young children. The results of recent production studies are much better than those of comprehension studies directed to the same linguistic constructions. Richards (1976) elicited appropriate uses of the verbs 'come' and 'go' from children age 4;0-7;7, while Clark and Garnica (1974) reported that even 8 year olds did not consistently distinguish between 'come' and 'go' on comprehension task. In studies that examined relative clauses and passive production, Hamburger and Crain (1982) discovered that children as young as three produce relative clauses in pragmatic contexts. Wexler (1987) said that the age at which passive is acquired in English falls well within a time span that is compatible with other factors. Chapter seven: The Development of Language Use: Expressing Perspectives on a Scene Ruth Berman Tel Aviv University Berman's study examines children's developing ability to use different linguistic means in order to describe the same content on the particular perspective that is expressed. The scene Berman checked was

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