language acquisition- a five part short answers questions

language acquisition- a five part short answers questions

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Foster-Cohen (1999: 42-56) combines both the observational and logical approaches in her analyses of samples of child language data. She examines the samples and looks

for clues to narrow their possible interpretations; she weighs the pros and cons of competing interpretations; then she reasons about what is the most likely analysis.

Read Foster-Cohen (1999:50- 56) and then answer the questions below.

1. A researcher is analysing a sample of utterances made by a child of 1;6 (one year and six months old) with a view to preparing a preliminary description of the

child’s language abilities. How might context help the researcher determine whether the child understands the meaning of words such as ‘this’, ‘there’ and ‘doll’? Some

aspects of context are given below for your consideration.
a. Physical context of the utterance: objects and people present in the vicinity.
b. Facial expressions and gestures that accompany the utterance.
c. Discourse context: what was said in the discourse before or after the utterance.
d. Shared background knowledge such as knowing
what (recent or distant past) experiences the child has had.

2. Assume that “This doll” in example 1 (Foster-Cohen p. 50) is a pragmatically appropriate response to the question “What’s this?” Is Foster-Cohen justified in

classifying “This doll” as a noun phrase? Defend your answer. (Note: In “This doll is mine” the underlined portion is a noun phrase (consisting of a demonstrative

determiner and a noun) and in “This is mine” the underlined is a noun phrase (consisting of just a demonstrative pronoun).

3. For the researcher analysing child language data, knowledge of the developmental norms of acquisition is a useful tool when choosing among competing analyses.

Identify two occasions when Foster-Cohen draws on such knowledge in her analysis of the data. Give example number and, in your own words, identify two different norms

and the purpose for which each is used.)

4. Using Foster-Cohen’s (pp. 50-52) analysis of the three examples given, summarise the

children’s abilities in the following areas. (We’ll assume that these utterances were made by different children.) Defend your answers.

a. Name two types of syntactic knowledge with which we may reasonably credit the children.
b. Give a description of the morphological knowledge of the group.
c. Name two types of semantic knowledge with which we may reasonably credit the children.
d. We use language to do things such as to name or identify, to give information, to seek information, to seek clarification, to deny, to refute, to contradict, to

challenge, to poke fun, to play games, to invite, to warn, to persuade, etc. Describe the functions of “Mommy write” and “Put there”. (What is the child using each

utterance to do?) Note that Foster-Cohen failed to give the function of one of these utterances, so it’s up to you to determine the function.

5. Consider the following two sets of data from Brown’s transcript eve01.cha

on the CHILDES database: In the first set, the mother is doing chores and not looking at

the child but in another part of the transcript the child said, “That Kathy” to which the mother replied, “Yes. That’s Kathy.” In addition, the child repeatedly says,

“That?” and when the mother asks, “What?” the child names an object (e.g. “Briefcase”).
CHI: That?
MOT: What is that?
CHI: That radio
MOT: What?
What’ll you do with it?
MOT: Could you get the other books? You get the other books and we’ll put them in the basket.
CHI: That?
MOT: Yes. Are there any in the kitchen?
a. What are the adult equivalents of the three underlined utterances? (Do both cases of “That?” have the same interpretation?) Justify your interpretations.

b. Give an account of this child’s linguistic competence by analysing the underlined utterances in terms of their Function, Meaning, and Structure. Remember to support

your answer. (See Foster-Cohen 1999:50-52 for some ideas. See also


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