Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I have learned some interesting stuff here:

First of all I want to say that while I've been learning, or shall I say re-learning, grammar in this course, I have realized that we say so much in English without ever actually saying it. 

For instance:

If you say, "I went to Spain," you're simply stating an action that happened in the past. It's done and over.
If you say, "I have been to Spain," then you're talking about an action that happened in the past and has bearing in the present. (Maybe we're about to talk about Spain. Who knows?)

It's crazy how much we say indirectly and without realizing it.

But on to the more interesting things, such as language acquisition.

It is incredibly interesting, especially when you’re talking about babies and children and how they learn their first languages.
I learned some crazy things like the following:
o   From 3-6 months babies can recognize the rhythm and cadence of the language they heard their mother speaking while they were in-utero
o   At 7 months babies begin babbling. This is unremarkable, but the interesting part is that no matter the mother tongue (first language) they all babble the same sounds (baba, dada, gaga, googoo, etc.).
§  Related and slightly more interesting, a deaf child born to deaf parents who sign to them will actually sign babble. They use there hands to make random incoherent signs that are actually bases of the language.
o   A critical window of language acquisition closes at around 10 months. If a child is not exposed to language by this time (feral children for example…) they will have great difficultly acquiring language at this point.
§  This is also the point at which children develop the ability to distinguish sounds (the reason non-native speakers in a tonal language have so much trouble).
§  Lastly this is when native fluency begins.
o   First words generally appear around 12 months. They are almost always concrete nouns (something you can pick up or point at) or some sort of action verbs (run, jump, fly).
o   A child learns one new word every two waking hours.
o   Around 18 months what psychologists refer to as a “language explosion” occurs. Children suddenly start putting together syntactical phrases.
§  Here is is interesting to notice that the holophrases — two-word phrases  — toddlers typically use (give me, all gone, etc) are typically syntactically correct (in other words the words come in the correct order if it were placed in a full sentence. (all gone = It’s all gone. The words come in the correct order.)
o   At 2-3 years we consider a child fluent in their native language. They can make questions, form passives, use conjunctions and articles and correct syntax.

So basically I learned today that babies are language geniuses.

Also, I had my interview for Caledonian today. I think I rocked it. The guy even grinned at me and said, "I like you!" I'll take that as a good sign.


  1. Very interesting. =o)


  2. I've always been fascinated by stuff like that. I think I learned most of it through linguistics and child development electives in college.

    Way to go on the interview! Let me know when you hear back!


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