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• As the linguistic repertoire of the child
increases, it is often assumed that the
child is, in some sense, being “taught”
• This idea is not really supported by what
the child actually does.
• For the vast majority of children, no one
provides any instruction on how to speak the
• Nor should we picture a little empty head
gradually being filled with words and phrases.
• A more accurate view would have the
children actively constructing ,from what is
said to them, possible ways of using language.
• The child’s linguistic production appears to be
mostly a matter of trying out constructions
and testing whether they work or not. 3
• It is simply not possible that the child is
acquiring the language principally through a
process of imitating adult speech.
• Certainly, children can be heard to repeat
versions of what adults say on occasion and
they are clearly in the process of adopting a
lot of vocabulary from speech they hear.
• NOAH: (picking up a toy dog )
• ( He bobs the toy in Adam’s face. )
• It is also that adult “ corrections” are a very
effective determiner of how the child speaks.
• A lot of amusing conversational snippets,
involving an adult’s attempt to correct a child’s
speech, seem to demonstrate the hopelessnes
of the task.
• Even when the correction a more is attempted
in a more subtle manner, the child will
continue to use a personally constructed form,
despite the adult’s repetition of what the
correction form should be.
In the dialog the child, a four-year-old, is neither
imitating the adult’s speech nor accepting the
• Child: My teacher holded the baby rabbits and
• Mother: Did you say your teacher held the baby
• Child: Yes.
• Mother: What did you say she did?
• Child: She holded the baby rabbits and we patted
• Mother: Did you say she held them tightly?
• Child: No she holded them loosely.
• One two-year-old,
described in Weir, was
tape-recorded as he lay
in bed alone and could
be heard playing with
words and phrases,
• I Go dis way… way
bay…baby do dis bib… all
• Word play of this type seems to be an
important element in the development of the
child’s linguistic repertoire.
• The details of this development beyond the
telegraphic stage have been traced through
the linguistic features that begin to turn up on
a regular basis in the steady stream of speech
emerging from the little chatterbox.
• By the time a child is two-and-a-half years old, he or
she is going beyond telegraphic speech forms and
incorporating some of the inflectional morphemes
that indicate the grammatical function of nouns and
• -s (plural) :boys/ two cats
!!! The child overgeneralizes the apparent
rule of adding –s to plurals and will talk
about foots /mans
•irregular past forms:
Annie is a nice girl
• articles: the and a
a book/ the girl
• Regular past: -ed
!!!The child overgeneralizes the apparent
rule of adding –ed and will talk about
doed/ comed /goed /wented
3rd person singular simple present: -s
• auxiliary ‘be’:
He is coming.
Similar evidence against “imitation” as the
basis of the child’s speech production has
been found in studies of the syntactic
structures used by young children.
• One child, specifically asked to repeat what
she heard, would listen to an adult say forms
such as the owl who eats candy run fast and
then repeat them in the form owl eat candy
and he run fast.
• It is clear that the child understands what
the adult is saying.
• She just has her own way of expressing it. 22
• Stage 1: occurs between 18 month and 26
• Stage 2: between 22 and 30 month
• Stage 3: between 24 and 40 month
• (the overlap in the periods during which
children go through these stages is a
natural effect of the different rates at
which different children normally
develop these and other structures.)
Children’s earliest questions are
single words or simple two- or three-word
sentences with rising intonation:
Cookie? Mommy book?
!!!At the same time, of course, they may
produce some correct questions- correct
because they have been learned as formulaic
Where’s daddy? What’s that?
:when their sentences grow longer, and they
begin to ask more new questions, children use the
word order of the declarative sentence. With ‘yes’
‘no’ questions, they simply add rising intonation.
With wh- questions, they put a question word at
You like this? I have some? Why you catch it?
!!!At this stage they may continue to produce the
correct ‘chunk-learned’ forms such as ‘what’s that?
alongside their own created questions.
Gradually, they notice that the
structure of questions is different and begin to
produce questions such as:
Can i go? Is that mine?
!!! Furthermore , at this stage, wh- questions
usually retain the declerative word order:
Why you don’t have one?
children begin to use subject-auxiliary
inversion and even add ‘do’ in sentences in which
there would be no auxiliary in the declerative
version of the sentence:
Do you like ice-cream?
• !!! It sometimes seems thet they can either use
inversions or use a wh- word, but not both.
Therefore, we may find inversion in ‘yes/no‘
questions but not in wh- questions, except
formulas such as’ whats’s that? Which may still be
Can he eat the cookie? Where i can draw them?
eventually children combine
Why he can’t go out?
:finally, when performance on
question is correct and well established,
there is still one more hurdle. When wh-
words appear in subordinate clauses or
embedded questions, children
overgeneralize the inverted form and
produce sentences such as:
I don’t know why can’t he go out.
• By the age of four, most of English speaking
children have passed through these
developmental stages and ask questions that
are both grammatical and appropriate.
• This does not mean that they never slip back
to an earlier stage.
• Overall, however, their speech shows that
they have acquired this part of their
: the child’s first negatives are usually
expressed by the word ‘no’ , either alone or as
the first word in the utterence.
No go. No comb.
• !!! Some children even adopt the word ‘any’ as a
negator. Perhaps with an accompanying shake of
Any bath! 32
as utterances grow longer, and
the sentences subject is included, the
negative usually appears just before the
Daddy no comb hair.
at this stage, the negative element is inserted
into into a more complex sentence.
• Children may add forms the negative other than no,
including words like ‘can’t’ and don’t.
• These sentences appear to follow the correct English
pattern of attaching the negative to the auxiliary or
• However, the negative words don’t yet vary these
forms for different persons or tenses:
I can’t do it. He don’t want it. 34
later, children begin to attach the
negative element to the correct form of auxiliary
verbs such as ‘do’ and ’be’, and modal verbs such
You didn’t have supper. She doesn’t want it.
• There may be still have difficulty with some other
features related to negatives.
I don’t have no more candies.
• The anecdotes that parents retell about
their child’s early speech (to the intense
embarrasment of the grown-up child)
usually involve examples of the strange
use of words.
• Having been warned that flies bring germs
into the house , one child was asked what
“germs” were and the answer was “something
the flies play with.”
• It ıs not always possible to determine so
precisely the meaning that children attach to
the words they use.
• It seems that during the stage many
children use their limited vocabulary to refer to a large
number of unrelated objects.
• One child first used bow-wow to refer to a dog and
then to a fur piece with glass eyes, a set of cufflinks
and even a bath thermometer.
• The word bow-wow seemed to have a meaning like “
object with shiny bits.” other children often extend
bow-wow to refer to cats, cows and horses.
• The word ball is extended to all kinds of round
• One interesting feature of the young child’s semantic is
the way certain lexical relations are treated. In terms of
, the child will almost use the “middle” –
level term in a hyponymous set such as animal-dog-
• It would seem more logical to learn the most general
term(animal), but all evidence indicates that children
first use dog with an overextended meaning close to the
meaning of “animal”.
• It also seems that antonymous relations are
acquired fairly late.
• ın one study, a large number of kindergarten
children pointed to the same heavily laden
apple tree when asked which tree has more
apple? And also when asked which tree has
• They just seem to think the correct response
will be the larger one, disregarding the
difference between a number of other pairs
such as before/after and buy/sell also seem
to be later acquisitions.
• Despite the fact that the child is still to
acquire a large number of other aspects of
his or her first language through the later
years of childhood,it is normally assumed
that, by the age of five, the child has
completed the greater part of the basic
language acquisition process.
• According to some, the child is then in a
good position to start learning a second