Language Development

First Edition

LouAnn Gerken

Details: 257 pages, B&W, Softcover, 6" x 9"

ISBN13: 978-1-59756-263-8

© 2009 | Available

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The English word infant is derived from the Latin word meaning unable to speak, reflecting the general sense that the transition from infancy into childhood is marked by the production of the child's first word. However, modern methods for measuring infant behavior and brain activity suggest that there is a great deal of language learning that goes on before first word production. The book, Language Development, by LouAnn Gerken, Ph.D. examines both classic and current studies that trace the development of human language from before birth to the early childhood years. By focusing on areas of language development in which a unified set of theoretical issues has been explored, the book presents a theoretically and empirically more coherent approach to language development than other books in this discipline. The book also considers the theoretical questions that drive language scientists to pursue these studies: What are the biological underpinnings of language? Why has it proven so difficult to build a computer that learns language? Is language learning like or unlike learning of other abilities such as math or music? How should we best characterize developmental language disorders? This book is aimed at the junior and senior undergraduates and the graduate students enrolled in Language Development across psychology, linguistics, and communication disorders. For practitioners engaged in working with language development/disorders, this is the perfect book to stay up-to-date. Each chapter in this book includes valuable highlights of "thought questions" to help students ponder the content of the chapter. Lucid narration of contents has been significantly augmented by ample usage of tables and illustrations.

  • Chapter 1. Introduction
    • Why Study Language Development?
    • The Nature of Language
    • Meaning Units
      Combinable Meaning Units
      Combinable Submeaning Units
    • The Combinatorial System Used in Human Language
      Phonology (Submeaning Units)
      Lexical Semantics (Meaning Units)
      Morphology and Syntax
    • Theories of Language Development
      What Are We Trying to Explain?
      Why Are Theories Important?
      Overview of the Theories
      Ruling Out an Unconstrained Learner
      Associative Learning—Making Connections Among Experiences
      Hypothesis Testing—The Learner as Scientist
      Triggering—A Minimal Role for Experience
      Summary of Theories
    • Organization of the Book
  • Chapter 2. Overview of Phonology
    • What Is Phonology?
    • Segmental Phonology
      Phones and Phonemes
      A Note About Notation
      Articulatory Features
      Acoustic Manifestations of Articulatory Features
      Variability in Acoustic Manifestations of Articulatory Features
      Orderings of Phonemes
    • Prosody
    • Summary
  • Chapter 3. Phonological Perception
    • Prenatal Speech Perception
    • Infant Speech Sound Discrimination
      Early Exploration
      Some Puzzling Findings Lead to a Reananlysis
    • How Does Speech Perception Change Over Development?
    • Finding Phonological Patterns in Auditory Words
    • Phonological Perception of Words
    • Summary
  • Chapter 4. Phonological Production
    • Precursors to Linguistic Production
      Oral Babble
      Manual Babble
    • Protowords and Early Words
      Sound Properties of Early Words
      Early Words by Signing Children
    • The Relation of Children’s Early Words Productions and Adult Forms
      Substitution Processes
      Assimilation Processes
      Syllable and Word Shape Processes
      Other Important Relations Between Adult and Child Forms
    • Theories of the Relation Between Adult and Child Forms
      Perceptual Theories
      Articulatory Theories
      Innate Phonology Theories
      Experience with the Target Language Theories
      Summary of Theories of the Relation Between Adult and Child Forms
    • Prosodic Properties of Early Productions
    • Language Disorders Involving Phonology
      Disorders Involving the Production of Consonants and Vowels *:Disorders Involving the Production of Prosody
    • Summary
  • Chapter 5. The Lexicon
    • What Is the Lexicon?
    • The Segmentation Problem
      Single-Word Utterances
      Words at Ends of Utterances
      Statistical Cues
      Occurrence of Words Adjacent to Frequent Function Morphemes
      Language-Specific Stress Patterns
      Language-Specific Typical Sound Sequences
    • The Mapping Problem
      The Whole Object Assumption
      The Taxonomic Assumption
      The Mutual Exclusivity Assumption
      The Shape Bias
      Statistical Constraints
      Syntactic Constraints
      Children’s Mapping Errors
      The Mapping Problem Across Languages
    • Summary
  • Chapter 6. Overview of Syntax and Morphology
    • What Is Morphosyntax?
    • Four Components of Morphosyntax
      Syntactic Constituents
      Syntactic Categories
      Structural Positions
      Thematic Roles
    • Four Debates Concerning the Development of Morphosyntax
      Far Do Children Generalize from Morphosynctactic Input?
      Can Associative Learning Models Account for Generalization?
      Do Children Make Generalizations That Are Not Supported by the Input?
      Do Children’s Morphosyntactic Errors Reflect Possible Human Grammars?
    • Summary
  • Chapter 7. Children’s Sensitivity to Sentence Forms
    • Syntactic Constituents
    • Syntactic Categories
      Children’s Early Utterances as Evidence for Syntactic Categories
      Children’s Use of Distributional Cues to Discover Syntactic Categories
      Are Syntactic Categories Innate?
    • Word Order
      Word Order in Child Production
      Word Order in Infant Perception
      Phrase Order in Infant Perception
    • Summary
  • Chapter 8. Assigning Meaning to Sentence Forms and Four Debates About Morphosyntactic Development
    • Assigning Thematic Roles
      Using Word Order to Assign Thematic Roles
      Using Sentence Type to Assign Thematic Roles
      Using Morphological Case Markers to Assign Thematic Roles
      Learning the Thematic Role Requirements of Particular Verbs
      Summary of Assigning Thematic Roles to Structural Positions **How Far Do Children Generalize from Morphosyntactic Input?
    • Can Associative Learning Models Account for Generalization?
      Past Tense Overgeneralization
      Children’s Generalization of Abstract Patterns
    • Do Children Make Generalizations That Are Not Supported by the Input?
      Hierarchilcal Structure in Question Format
      Anaphoric One
    • Do Children’s Morphosyntactic Errors Reflect Possible Human Grammars?
    • English-Speaking Children’s Subjectless Sentences
      Children’s Pronoun Case Errors
      Summary of Children’s Morphosyntactic Errors
    • Summary
  • Chapter 9. Issues in the Biology of Language
    • We Need More Data
    • What Do We Know so Far?
      The Raw Materials for Language
      Learning About the Form of the Input
      Mapping Forms to Meanings
    • The Development of Language in Two Atypical Populations
      Specific Language Impairment
      Williams Syndrome
      Summary of Two Atypical Populations
      Age Effects on Language Learning
      Age Effects in Second Language Learning
      Age Effects in First Language Learning
      Creating Language Structure
    • Summary
  • Chapter 10. Some Methods Used in Language Development Research
    • Some Behavioral Methods Focusing on Infant Form Discrimination
      Contingent Sucking Rate Procedure
      High Amplitude Sucking Procedure
      Headturn Preference Procedure
      Central Fixation Preferential Listening Procedure
      Visual Habituation Procedure
      Conditioned Head Turn Procedure
    • Behavioral Methods Focusing on Infants’ Ability to Associate Form and Reference
      Intermodal Preferential Looking Procedure
      Looking While Listening Procedure
      Switch Procedure
    • Methods Measuring Brain Activity
      Event-Related Potentials
      Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
      Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
      Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS)
    • Methods for Testing Child Comprehension and Sensitivity to Morphosyntax
      Picture Selection Procedure
      Act-Out Procedure
      Grammaticality Judgments
      Truth-Value Judgments
    • Methods for Testing Language Production
      Spontaneous Speech
      Imitative Speech
      Elicited Production
  • Index

LouAnn Gerken

LouAnn Gerken received her PhD in Psychology from Columbia University in 1987. She has held faculty appointments in Psychology, Linguistics, and Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, and she is currently the Director of Cognitive Science at the University of Arizona. Throughout her career, she has used a range of techniques to study language development in infants and children, and has directed her research at addressing both practical issues and classic questions about the nature of human language and its relation to the human mind. In addition to her work on language development, Dr. Gerken is involved in efforts to restructure academic institutions to promote broader participation and greater equity.

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