Update: 2015-12-18 01:23 PM -0500


Notes on:
Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, 4th. ed.


H. Douglas Brown, Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. Copyright 2000. Pearson Education, 10 Bank Street, White Plains, NY 10606. ISBN 0-13-017816-0

Notes by U Kyaw Tun (UKT) (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA) and staff of Tun Institute of Learning (TIL) . Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com 

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Contents of this page
Ch02. First Language (L1) Acquisition  020
01. Theories of First Language Acquisition, 021
01.01. Behavioristic Approaches, 022
01.02. Nativist Approach, 024
01.03. Functional Approaches, 027
01.03.01. Cognition and Language Development, 028
01.03.02. Social Interaction and Language Development, 029
02. Issues in First Language Acquisition, 030
02.01. Competence and Performance, 030
02.02. Comprehension and Production, 033
02.03. Nature or Nurture? , 034
02.04. Universals, 035
02.05. Systematicity and Variability, 037
02.06. Language and Thought, 037
02.07. Imitation, 038
02.08. Practice, 040
02.09. Input, 041
02.10. Discourse, 042
03. In the Classroom: Gouin and Berlitz -- The First Reformers, 043
04. Topics and Questions for Study and Discussion, 046
05. Suggested Readings, 047
06. Language Learning Experience: Journal Entry 2, 048

Noteworthy passages:
Bruner maintains people interpret the world in terms of its similarities and differences. [{Compare with Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. See Benjamin Whorf. Also compare with Buddhist philosophy of Roots {24-pyic~sa.ya.}.}].
 • Chomsky has gradually abandoned the LAD in favour of a parameter-setting model of language acquisition

UKT notes
a game of words
Benjamin WhorfB. F. Skinner
Charles BerlitzCharles Osgood's Mediational theoryCognitive and affective considerationsConnectionism
Dan SlobinDietrich Tiedeman
Eric Lenneberg
Francois Gouin
Goethe and Schiller
James JenkinsJean PiagetJerome Bruner
Kenneth MacCorquodale
Maximilian Berlitz
Noam Chomsky
operant conditioning
Pivot GrammarPop Go Weasel
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (SWH)
tabula rasa TelegrapheseTheories of language acquisition
scientific method
Voici la table
Werner Leopold

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... research on child language acquisition dates back to the latter part of the eighteenth century, when the German philosopher Dietrich Tiedemann recorded his observations of the psychological and linguistic development of his young son. ...

... they acquire them "naturally," without [{p021begin}] special instruction, ... The direct comparisons must be treated with caution, however. ... in the case of adult L2 learning, is the tremendous cognitive and affective contrast between adults and children. ... (See UKT note on Cognitive and affective considerations . ) ...

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Everyone at some time has witnessed the remarkable ability of children to communicate. ... As they reach the end of their first year, children make ... two-word and three-word "sentences" -- commonly referred to as "telegraphic" utterances -- such as "allgone milk,"  ... [{See my note on Telegraphese.}] ... By about age three, children can comprehend an incredible quantity of linguistic input; ... This fluency continues into school age as children internalize increasingly complex structures, expand their vocabulary, and sharpen communicative skills. At school age, children not only learn what to say but what not to say as they learn the social functions of their language.

... From the first word to tens of thousands? From telegraphese at eighteen months to the compound- [{p022begin}] complex, cognitively precise, socioculturally appropriate sentences just a few short years later? ... [{See my note on Theories of language acquisition.}]

... two polarized positions in the study of L1 acquisition. ... behavioristic position would claim that children come into the world with a tabula rasa , ... At the other constructivist extreme is the position that makes not only the rationalist/cognitivist claim that children come into this world with very specific innate knowledge, predispositions, and biological timetables, but that children learn to function in a language chiefly through interaction and discourse.

These positions represent opposites on a continuum, with many possible positions in between. Three such points The first (behavioristic) position is set in contrast to the second (nativist) and third (functional) positions.

UKT: Mario Vaneechoutte and John R. Skoyles, 1998 in The memetic origin of language: modern humans as musical primates. Journal of Memetics -- Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
http://jom-emit.cfpm.org/1998/vol2/vaneechoutte_m&skoyles_jr.html © JoM-EMIT 1998, the authors have pointed out that
"However, none has suggested the memetic origin of language and that the acquisition of audiolingual skills may be based upon the ability of the humans to sing -- an ability not shared by any of the large apes."

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01.01. Behavioristic Approaches

Language is a fundamental part of total human behavior, ... The behavioristic approach focused on the immediately perceptible aspects of linguistic behavior -- the publicly observable responses -- and the relationships or associations between those responses and events in the world surrounding them. A behaviorist might consider effective language behavior to be the production of correct responses to stimuli. ... becomes habitual, or conditioned. Thus children produce linguistic responses that are reinforced. This is true of their comprehension as well as production responses, although to consider comprehension is to wander just a bit out of the publicly observable realm. One learns to comprehend an utterance by responding appropriately to it and by being reinforced for that response.

UKT: See the Brave New World in Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_New_World 080223
   "Brave New World is a 1932 novel by Aldous Huxley. Set in London in 2540 AD, the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology, biological engineering, and sleep-learning that combine to change society. Huxley answers this book with a reassessment in an essay, Brave New World Revisited (1958), and with his final work, a novel titled Island (1962), ...

...  model of linguistic behavior was embodied in B.F. Skinner's classic, Verbal Behavior (1957). ... Skinner's theory of verbal behavior was an extension of his general theory of learning by operant conditioning. ... [{p023begin}] ...

Skinner's theories attracted a number of critics, not the least among them Noam Chomsky(1959), who penned a highly critical review of Verbal Behavior. Some years later, however, Kenneth MacCorquodale (1970) published a reply to Chomsky's review in which he eloquently defended Skinner's points of view. And so the battle raged on. Today virtually no one would agree that Skinner's model of verbal behavior adequately accounts for the capacity to acquire language, ...

In an attempt to broaden the base of behavioristic theory, some psychologists proposed modified theoretical positions. One of these positions was mediation theory, in which meaning was accounted for by the claim that the linguistic stimulus (a word or sentence) elicits a "mediating" response that is self-stimulating. ... (See UKT note on Charles Osgood's Mediational theory.)

Mediation theories still left many questions about language unanswered. ... All sentences have deep structures -- the level of underlying meaning that is only manifested overtly by surface structures. These deep structures are intricately interwoven in a person's total cognitive and affective experience. Such depths of language were scarcely plumbed by mediational theory.

Yet another attempt ... was made by James Jenkins and Palermo (1964). While [{p024begin}] admitting (p. 143) that their conjectures were "speculative" and "premature;' ...

It would appear that the rigor of behavioristic psychology, with its emphasis on empirical observation and the scientific method, only began to explain the miracle of language acquisition. It left untouched genetic and interactionist domains that could be explored only by approaches that probed more deeply.

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01.02. Nativist Approach

Nativist approaches to the study of child language asked some of those deeper questions. The term nativist is derived from the fundamental assertion that language acquisition is innately determined, that we are born with a genetic capacity ... .

... Eric Lenneberg (1967) proposed that language is a "species-specific" behavior ... Chomsky (1965) similarly claimed the existence of innate properties of language to explain the child's mastery of a native language in such a short time despite the highly abstract nature of the rules of language. This innate knowledge, according to Chomsky, is embodied in a "little black box" of sorts, a language acquisition device (LAD). McNeill (1966) described LAD as consisting of four innate linguistic properties:

1. the ability to distinguish speech sounds from other sounds in the environment,
2. the ability to organize linguistic data into various classes that can later be refined,
3. knowledge that only a certain kind of linguistic system is possible and that other kinds are not, and
4. the ability to engage in constant evaluation of the developing linguistic system so as to construct the simplest possible system out of the available linguistic input. [{p025begin}]

McNeill and other Chomskyan disciples composed eloquent arguments for the appropriateness of the LAD proposition, especially in contrast to behavioristic, stimulus-response (S-R) theory, ...

More recently, researchers in the nativist tradition have continued this line of inquiry ... as Universal Grammar (see Cook 1993: 200-245; Mitchell & Myles 1998: 42- 71, for an overview). Positing that all human beings are genetically equipped with abilities that enable them to acquire language, ... at question formation, negation, word order, discontinuity of embedded clauses ("The ball that's on the table is blue"), subject deletion ("Es mi hermano" Machine translation by http://translator.dictionary.com/text.html : "He is my brother." ), and other grammatical phenomena.

... is a legitimate system in its own right. The child's linguistic development is not a process of developing fewer and fewer "incorrect" structures, not a language in which earlier stages have more "mistakes" than later stages. Rather, the child's language at any stage is systematic in that the child is constantly forming hypotheses on the basis of the input received and then testing those hypotheses in speech (and comprehension). As the child's language develops, those hypotheses are continually revised, reshaped, or sometimes abandoned.

Before generative linguistics came into vogue, Jean Berko (1958) ... discovered that English-speaking children as young as four years of age applied rules for the formation of plural, present progressive, past tense, third singular, and possessives. She found, for example, that if a child saw one "wug" he could easily talk about two "wugs," or if he were presented with a person who knows how to "gling," the child could talk about a person who "glinged" yesterday, or sometimes who "glang." [{p026begin}]

Nativist studies ... construct hypothetical grammars ... . These grammars were largely formal representations of the deep structure -- ... Linguists began to examine child language from early one- and two-word forms of "telegraphese" to the complex language of five- to ten-year-olds. Borrowing one tenet of structural and behavioristic paradigms, ... probed the data for internally consistent systems, in much the same way that a linguist describes a language in the "field." The use of a generative framework was, of course, a departure from structural methodology.

... The early grammars of child language were referred to as pivot grammars. ... Consider the following utterances :

Linguists noted that the words on the left-hand side seemed to belong to a class that words on the right-hand side generally did not belong to. ... The first class of words was called "pivot," since they could pivot around a number of words in the second, "open" class. Thus the first rule of the generative " grammar of the child was described as follows:

Sentence  –>  Pivot word + Open word

Research data gathered in the generative framework yielded a multitude of such rules. Some of these rules appear to be grounded in the UG of the child. ... 

In subsequent years the generative "rule-governed" model in the Chomskyan tradition has been challenged. ... A new "messier but more fruitful picture" (Spolsky 1989: 149) was provided by what has come to be known as the parallel distributed [{p027begin}] processing (PDP) model (also called Connectionism) in which neurons in the brain are said to form multiple connections: each of the 100 billion nerve cells in the brain may be linked to as many as 10,000 of its counter-parts. Thus, a child's (or adult's) linguistic performance may be the consequence of many levels of simultaneous neural interconnections rather than a serial process of one rule being applied, then another, then another, and so forth.

A simple analogy to music illustrates this complex notion. ... The "symphony" of the human brain enables us to process many segments and levels of language, cognition, affect, and perception all at once -- in a parallel configuration. And so, according to the PDP model, a sentence -- which has phonological, morphological, syntactic, lexical, semantic, discourse, sociolinguistic, and strategic properties -- is not "generated" by a series of rules (Ney & Pearson 1990; Sokolik 1990). Rather, sentences are the result of the simultaneous interconnection of a multitude of brain cells.

All of these approaches within the nativist framework have made at least three important contributions to our understanding of the L1 acquisition process:

1. freedom from the restrictions of the so-called " scientific method" to explore the unseen, unobservable, underlying, abstract linguistic structures being developed in the child;

2. systematic description of the child's linguistic repertoire as either rule-governed or operating out of parallel distributed processing capacities; and

3. the construction of a number of potential properties of Universal Grammar.


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01.03. Functional Approaches

More recently, with an increase in constructivist approaches to the study of language, we have seen a shift in patterns of research. ... Two emphases have emerged: (a) Researchers began to see that language was one manifestation of the cognitive and affective ability to deal with the world, with others, and with the self. (b) Moreover, the generative rules that were proposed under the nativistic framework were abstract, formal, explicit, and quite logical, yet they dealt specifically with the forms of language and not with the the deeper functional levels of meaning constructed from social interaction. Examples of forms of [{p028begin}] language are morphemes, words, sentences, and the rules that govern them. Functions are the meaningful, interactive purposes, within a social (pragmatic) context, that we accomplish with the forms.

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01.03.01 Cognition and Language Development

Lois Bloom (1971) cogently illustrated the first issue in her criticism of pivot grammar when she pointed out that the relationships in which words occur in telegraphic utterances are only superficially similar. For example, in the utterance "Mommy sock," which nativists would describe as a sentence consisting of a pivot word and an open word, Bloom found at least three possible underlying relations: agent-action (Mommy is putting the sock on), agent-object (Mommy sees the sock), and possessor-possessed (Mommy's sock). By examining data in reference to contexts, Bloom concluded that children learn underlying structures, and not superficial word order. ... "Mommy sock" could mean a number of different things to a child. Those varied meanings were inadequately captured in a pivot grammar approach.

Lewis Carroll aptly captured this characteristic of language in Through the Looking Glass (1872), where Alice argues with Humpty Dumpty about the meanings of words (See UKT note on a game of words.):

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."

Bloom's research, along with that of Jean Piaget, Dan Slobin, and others, paved the way for a new wave of child language study, this time centering on the relationship of cognitive development to L1 acquisition. Piaget (Piaget & Inhelder 1969) described overall development as the result of children's interaction with their environment, ... What children learn about language is determined by what they already know about the world. As Gleitman and Wanner (1982: 13) noted in their review of the state of the art in child language research, "children appear to approach language learning equipped with conceptual interpretive abilities for categorizing the world. ...Learners are biased to map each semantic idea on the linguistic unit word." [{p029begin}]

Dan Slobin (1971, 1986), among others, demonstrated that in all languages, semantic learning depends on cognitive development and that sequences of development are determined more by semantic complexity than by structural complexity. ...

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01.03.02. Social Interaction and Language Development

In recent years it has become quite clear that language functioning extends well beyond cognitive thought and memory structure. ... Some research (Berko-Gleason 1988, Lock 1991) looked at the interaction between the child's language acquisition and the learning of how social systems operate in human behavior. Other investigations (for example, Budwig 1995, Kuczaj 1984) of child language centered on one of the thorniest areas of linguistic research: the function of language in discourse. Since language is used for interactive communication, it is only fitting that one study the communicative functions of language: What do children know and learn about talking with others? ...

Of interest in this genre of research is the renewed interest in the performance level of language. All those overt responses that were so carefully observed by structuralists and hastily weeded out as "performance variables" by generative linguists in their zeal to get at competence have now returned to the forefront. Hesitations, pauses, backtracking, and the like are [{p030begin}] indeed significant conversational cues. Even some of the contextual categories described by -- of all people -- Skinner, in Verbal Behavior, turn out to be relevant! The linguist can no longer deal with abstract, formal rules without dealing with all those minutiae of day-to-day performance that were previously set aside in a search for systematicity.

Several theoretical positions have been sketched out here. (See Fig2.1 for a summary.) A complete, consistent, unified theory of L1 acquisition cannot yet be claimed; however, child language research has manifested some enormous strides toward that ultimate goal. And even if all the answers are far from evident, maybe we are asking more of the right questions. ...

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02.01. Competence and Performance

For centuries scientists and philosophers operated with the basic distinction between competence and performance. ... In technological [{p031begin}] societies we have used the competence-performance distinction in all walks of life. ... this competence can be measured and assessed by means of the observation of elicited samples of performance called "tests" and "examinations."

In reference to language, competence is one's underlying knowledge of the system of a language ...

The distinction is one that linguists and psychologists in the generative/cognitive framework have operated under for some time, a mentalistic construct that structuralists and behaviorists obviously did not deal with: How could one scientifically assess this unobservable, underlying level?

Brown and Bellugi (1964) gave us a delightful example of the difficulty of attempting to extract underlying grammatical knowledge from children. Unlike adults, who can be asked, for example, whether it is better to say "two foots" or "two feet," children exhibit what is called the " pop-go-weasel" effect, as witnessed in the following dialogue between an adult and a two-year-old child:

Adult:  Now Adam, listen to what I say. Tell me which is better to say: some water or a water?
Adam: Pop go weasel.

The child obviously had no interest in -- or cognizance of -- the adult's grammatical interrogation and therefore said whatever he wanted to! The researcher is thus forced to devise indirect methods of judging competence. ... How is one, for example, to infer some general competence about the linguistic system of a five-year-old, monolingual, English-speaking girl whose recounting of an incident viewed on television is transcribed below [{p032begin}]:

they heared 'em underground ca-cause they went through a hoyle -- a hole -- and they pulled a rock from underground and then they saw a wave going in -- that the hole -- and they brought a table and the wave brought 'em out the k-tunnel and then the -- they went away and then -- uh - m -- ah -- back on top and it was -- uh -- going under a bridge and they went -- then the braves hit the -- the bridge -- they -- all of it -- th-then they looked there -- then they -- then they were safe.

On the surface it might appear that this child is severely impaired in her attempts to communicate. In fact, I once presented this same transcript, without identification of the speaker, to a group of speech therapists and asked them to analyze the various possible "disorders" manifested in the data. After they cited quite a number of technical manifestations of aphasia, I gleefully informed them of the real source! The point is that every day in our processing of linguistic data, we comprehend such strings of speech and comprehend them rather well because we know something about story-telling, about hesitation phenomena, and about the context of the narrative.

If we were to record many more samples of the five-year-old's speech, we would still be faced with the problem of inferring her competence. What is her knowledge of the verb system? of the concept of a "sentence"? Even if we administer rather carefully designed tests of comprehension or production to a child, we are still left with the problem of inferring, as accurately as possible, the child's underlying competence. Continued research helps us to confirm those inferences through multiple observations.

Adult talk, incidentally, is often no less fraught with monstrosities, ... by a professional golfer discussing tips on how to improve a golf game.

Concentration is important. But uh -- I also -- to go with this of course if you're playing well-if you're playing well then you get up tight about your game. You get keyed up and it's easy to concentrate. You know you're playing well and you know ... in with a chance than it's easier, much easier to -- to you know get in there and -- and start to ... you don't have to think about it. I mean it's got to be automatic.

Perhaps the guest would have been better off if he had simply uttered the very last sentence and omitted all the previous verbiage! The competence-performance model has not met with universal acceptance. Major criticisms of the model focus on the notion that competence, as defined by Chomsky, consists of the abilities of an "idealized" [{p033begin}] hearer-speaker, devoid of any so-called performance variables. Stubbs (1996), reviewing the issue, reminded us of the position of British linguists Firth and Halliday: dualisms are unnecessary, and the only option for linguists is to study language in use. Tarone (1988) pointed out that idealizing the language user disclaims responsibility for a number of linguistic goofs and slips of the tongue that may well arise from the context within which a person is communicating. In other words, all of a child's (or adult's) slips and hesitations and self-corrections are potentially connected to what Tarone calls heterogeneous competence -- abilities that are in the process of being formed. So, while we may be tempted to claim that the five-year-old quoted above knows the difference, say, between a "hole" and a "hoyle" we must not too quickly pass off the latter as an irrelevant slip of the tongue.

What can we conclude about language acquisition theory based on a competence-performance model? A cautious approach to inferring someone's competence will allow you to draw some conclusions about overall ability while still leaving the door open for some significance to be attributed to those linguistic tidbits that you might initially be tempted to discount.

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02.02. Comprehension and Production

Not to be confused with the competence/performance distinction, comprehension and production can be aspects of both performance and competence. One of the myths that has crept into some foreign language teaching materials is that comprehension (listening, reading) can be equated with competence, while production (speaking, writing) is performance. It is important to recognize that this is not the case: production is of course more directly observable, but comprehension is as much performance -- a "willful act;' to use Saussure's term -- as production is.

In child language, most observational and research evidence points to the general superiority of comprehension over production: children seem to understand "more" than they actually produce. For instance, a child may understand a sentence with an embedded relative in it (e.g., "The ball that's in the sandbox is red") but not be able to produce one. W. R. Miller (1963:863) gave us a good example of this phenomenon in phonological development: "Recently a three-year-old child told me her name was Litha. I answered 'Litha?' 'No, Litha: 'Oh, Lisa.' 'Yes, Litha."' The child clearly perceived the contrast between English <s> [{IPA [s] }] and <th> [{IPA [θ] }], even though she could not produce the contrast herself.

UKT: I have always been interested in the Hindi-Devanagari speakers confusing the <th> {þa.} [θ] of Burmese-Myanmar with <s> {sa.} [s]. The difference has resulted in the difference International Pali and the Pali-Myanmar which has led some Myanmar to question the correctness of the pronunciation of Pali-Myanmar. It has also led some linguists to suggest that {þa.} was actually {sa.} in the ancient Burmese language. In one email Dr. Zev Handel, Assoc. Professor of Chinese Language and Linguistics, Univ. of Washington had written to me: "By the way, very few Tibeto-Burman languages have the "thibilant" sound.  You can check "Phonological Inventories of Tibeto-Burman Languages", edited by Namkung, published by Berkeley's STEDT project." -- UKT 070916

How are we to explain this difference, this apparent "lag" between comprehension and production? We know that even adults understand more vocabulary than they ever use in speech, and also perceive more syntactic [{p034begin}] variation than they actually produce. Could it be that the same competence accounts for both modes of performance? Or can we speak of comprehension competence as something that is identified as separate from production competence? Because comprehension for the most part runs ahead of production, is it more completely indicative of our overall competence? Is production indicative of a smaller portion of competence? Surely not. It is therefore necessary to make a distinction between production competence and comprehension competence. A theory of language must include some accounting of the separation of the two types of competence. In fact, linguistic competence no doubt has several modes or levels, at least as many as four, since speaking, listening, reading, and writing are all separate modes of performance.

Perhaps an even more compelling argument for the separation of competencies comes from research that appears to support the superiority of production over comprehension. ...

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02.03. Nature or Nurture?

Nativists contend that a child is born with an innate knowledge of or predisposition toward language, and that this innate property (the LAD or UG) is universal in all human beings. The innateness hypothesis was a possible resolution of the contradiction between the behavioristic notion that language is a set of habits that can be acquired by a process of conditioning and the fact that such conditioning is much too slow and inefficient a process to account for the acquisition of a phenomenon as complex as language.

But the innateness hypothesis presented a number of problems itself. ... one must now scientifically explain the genetic transmission of linguistic ability -- which we cannot yet do with certainty. On the other hand, while the LAD remains a rationalistic hypothesis, I think we can take heart in slowly mounting genetic (scientific) evidence of the [{p035begin}] transmission of certain abilities, and assume that among those abilities we will one day find hard evidence of "language genes."

We must not put all our eggs in the innateness basket. ...

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02.04. Universals

Closely related to the innateness controversy is the claim that language is universally acquired in the same manner, and moreover, that the deep structure of language at its deepest level may be common to all languages. Decades ago Werner Leopold (1949), who was far ahead of his time, made an eloquent case for certain phonological and grammatical universals in language. Leopold inspired later work by Greenberg (1963, 1966), Bickerton (1981), and Slobin (1986, 1992).

Currently, as noted earlier in this chapter, research on Universal Grammar continues this quest. One of the keys to such inquiry lies in research on child language acquisition across many different languages in order to determine the commonalities. Slobin (1986, 1992) and his colleagues gathered data on language acquisition in, among others, Japanese, French, Spanish, German, Polish, Hebrew, and Turkish. Interesting universals of pivot grammar and other telegraphese emerged. Maratsos (1988) enumerated some of the universal linguistic categories under investigation by a number of different researchers. These categories are still the subject of
current inquiry:
     word order
     morphological marking tone [{p036begin}]
     agreement (e.g., of subject and verb)
     reduced reference (e.g., pronouns, ellipsis) nouns and noun classes
     verbs and verb classes
     question formation

Much of current UG research is centered around what have come to be known as principles and parameters. The child's "initial state is supposed to consist of a set of universal principles which specify some limited possibilities of variation, expressible in terms of parameters which need to be fixed in one of a few possible ways" (Saleemi 1992: 58). In simpler terms, this means that the child's task of language learning is manageable because of certain naturally occurring constraints. For example, the principle of structure dependency "states that language is organized in such a way that it crucially depends on the structural relationships between elements in a sentence (such as words, morphemes, etc.)" (Holzman 1998: 49). Take, for example, the following sentences:
     1. The boy kicked the ball.
     2. The boy that's wearing a red shirt and standing next to my brother kicked the ball.
     3. She's a great teacher.
     4. Is she a great teacher?

The first two sentences rely on a structural grouping, characteristic of all languages, called "phrase;' or more specifically, "noun phrase." Without awareness of such a principle, someone would get all tangled up in sentence (2). Likewise, the principle of word order permutation allows one to perceive the difference between (3) and (4). Children, of course, are not born with such sophisticated perceptions of language; in fact, sentences like (2) are incomprehensible to most native English speaking children until about the age of four or five. Nevertheless, the principle of structure dependency eventually appears in both the comprehension and production of the child.

According to UG, languages cannot vary in an infinite number of ways.  ... One parameter, known as "head parameter," specifies the position of the "head" of a phrase in relation to its complements in the phrase. ... Languages are either "head first" or "head last." English is a typical head-first language, with phrases like "the boy that's wearing a red shirt" and "kicked the ball." Japanese is a head-last language, with sentences like "E wa kabe ni kakkatte imasu" (picture wall on is hanging) (from Cook & Newson 1996:14).

UKT: I have been asked what type of language Burmese-Myanmar is. Taking a cue from the English phrases:
{ïn~kri a.ni wut hta:tè. kaung-ka.lé:} "the boy that's wearing a red shirt" and
{Bau.loän: kan tèý} "kicked the ball",
I would answer that Burmese similar to English is a head-first language. However, I still have to look more into it. (080224).


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02.05. Systematicity and Variability

One of the assumptions of a good deal of current research on child language is the systematicity of the process of acquisition. ...

But in the midst of all this systematicity, there is an equally remarkable amount of variability in the process of learning! Researchers do not agree on how to define various "stages" of language acquisition, even in English. Certain "typical " patterns appear in child language. For example, it has been found that young children who have not yet mastered the past-tense morpheme tend first to learn past tenses as separate items ("walked," "broke," "drank") without knowledge of the difference between regular and irregular verbs. Then, around the age of four or five, they begin to perceive a system in which the -ed morpheme is added to a verb, and at this point all verbs become regularized ("breaked," "drinked," "goed"). Finally, after school age, children perceive that there are two classes of verbs, regular and irregular, and begin to sort out verbs into the two classes, a process that goes on for many years and in some cases persists into young adulthood.

In both L1 and L2 acquisition, the problem of variability is being carefully addressed by researchers (see Bayley & Preston 1996 and Tarone 1988, for example). One of the major current research problems is to account for all this variability: to determine if what is now variable in our present point of view can some day be deemed systematic through such careful accounting.

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02.06. Language and Thought

For years researchers have probed the relationship between language and cognition. ...

... the influence of language on cognitive development. Jerome Bruner (Bruner, Olver, & Greenfield 1966), for example, singled out sources of language-influenced intellectual development: words shaping concepts, dialogues between parent and child or teacher and child serving to orient and educate, and other sources. Vygotsky (1962, 1978) also differed from Piaget in claiming that social interaction, through [{p038begin}] language, is a prerequisite to cognitive development. Thought and language were seen as two distinct cognitive operations that grow together (Schinke-Uano 1993). Moreover, every child reaches his or her potential development, in part, through social interaction with adults and peers. Vygotsky's zone of proximal development is the distance between a child's actual cognitive capacity and the level of potential development (Vygotsky 1978: 86).

One of the champions of the position that language affects thought was Benjamin Whorf, who with Edward Sapir formed the well-known Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativity -- namely, that each language imposes on its speaker a particular "world view." (See Chapter 7 for more discussion of the Sapir-Whorl hypothesis.)

The issue at stake in child language acquisition is to determine how thought affects language, how language affects thought, and how linguists can best describe and account for the interaction of the two. While we do not have complete answers, it is clear that research has pointed to the fact that cognitive and linguistic development are inextricably intertwined with dependencies in both directions. And we do know that language is away of life, is at the foundation of our being, and interacts simultaneously with thoughts and feelings.

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02.07. Imitation

It is a common informal observation that children are good imitators ... and mimics ... a child uses in the acquisition of language. That conclusion is not inaccurate on a global level. Indeed, research has shown that echoing is a particularly salient strategy in early language learning and an important aspect of early phonological acquisition. Moreover, imitation is consonant with behavioristic principles of language acquisition-principles relevant, at least, to the earliest stages.

But it is important to ask what type of imitation is implied. ... In foreign language classes, rote pattern drills often evoke surface imitation: a repetition of sounds by the student without the vaguest understanding of what the sounds might possibly mean. [{p039begin}]

The earliest stages of child language acquisition may manifest a good deal of surface imitation since the baby may not possess the necessary semantic categories to assign "meaning" to utterances. But as children perceive the importance of the semantic level of language, they attend to a greater extent to that meaningful semantic level -- the deep structure of language. They engage in deep-structure imitation. In fact, the imitation of the deep structure of language can literally block their attention to the surface structure so that they become, on the face of it, poor imitators. Consider the following conversation as recorded by McNeill (1966: 69).

Child:  Nobody don't like me.
Mother: No, say "nobody likes me."
Child:  Nobody don't like me. (eight repetitions of this dialogue)
Mother: No, now listen carefully; say "nobody likes me."
Child:  Oh! Nobody don't likes me.

You can imagine the frustration of both mother and child ... The child was expressing a deep feeling, while the mother was concerned about grammar!

A similar case in point occurred one day when the teacher of an elementary-school class asked her pupils to write a few sentences on a piece of paper, to which one rather shy pupil responded, "Ain't got no pencil." Disturbed at this nonstandard response, the teacher embarked on a barrage of corrective models for the child: "I don't have any pencils, you don't have a pencil, they don't have pencils, ..." When the teacher finally ended her monologue of patterns, the intimidated and bewildered child said, "Ain't nobody got no pencils?" The teacher's purpose was lost on this child because he too was attending to language as a meaningful and communicative tool, and not to the question of whether certain forms were "correct" and others were not. The child, like all children, was attending to the truth value of the utterance.

Research has also shown that children, when explicitly asked to repeat a sentence in a test situation, will often repeat the correct underlying deep structure with a change in the surface rendition. For example, sentences such as "The ball that is rolling down the hill is black" and "The boy who's in the sandbox is wearing a red shirt" tend to be repeated back by preschool children as "The black ball is rolling down the hill" and "The red boy is in the sandbox" (Brown 1970). Children are excellent imitators. It is simply a matter of understanding exactly what it is that they are imitating.

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02.08. Practice

Closely related to the notion of imitation is a somewhat broader question, the nature of practice in child language. ... What is the role of the frequency of hearing and producing items in the acquisition of those items? It is common to observe children and conclude that they "practice" language constantly, especially in the early stages of single-word and two-word utterances. A behavioristic model of L1 acquisition would claim that practice -- repetition and association -- is the key to the formation of habits by operant conditioning.

One unique form of practice by a child was recorded by Ruth Weir (1962). She found that her children produced rather long monologues in bed at night before going to sleep. Here is one example: "What color ... What color blanket ...What color mop ...What color glass ... Mommy's home sick ...Mommy's home sick ...Where's Mommy home sick ...Where's Mikey sick ...Mikey sick." Such monologues are not uncommon among children, whose inclination it is to "play" with language just as they do with all objects and events around them. Weir's data show far more structural patterning than has commonly been found in other data. Nevertheless, children's practice seems to be a key to language acquisition.

Practice is usually thought of as referring to speaking only. But one can also think in terms of comprehension practice, which is often considered under the rubric of the frequency of linguistic input to the child. Is the acquisition of particular words or structures directly attributable to their frequency in the child's linguistic environment? ...

There are some conflicting data, however. Telegraphic speech is one case in point. Some of the most frequently occurring words in the language are omitted in such two- and three-word utterances. And McNeill (1968: 416) found that a Japanese child produced the Japanese postposition ga far more frequently and more correctly than another contrasting postposition wa, even though her mother was recorded as using wa twice as often as ga. McNeill attributed this finding to the fact that ga as a subject marker is of more importance, grammatically, to the child, and she therefore acquired the use of that item since it was more meaningful on a deep-structure level. Another feasible explanation for that finding might lie in the easier pronunciation of ga.  [{p041begin}] The frequency issue may be summed up by noting that nativists who claim that "the relative frequency of stimuli is of little importance in language acquisition" (Wardhaugh 1971: 12) might, in the face of evidence now available, be more cautious in their claims. It would appear that frequency of meaningful occurrence may well be a more precise refinement of the notion of frequency.

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02.09. Input

The role of input in the child's acquisition of language is undeniably crucial. Whatever one's position is on the innateness of language, the speech that young children hear is primarily the speech heard in the home, and much of that speech is parental speech or the speech of older siblings. Linguists once claimed that most adult speech is basically semigrammatical (full of performance variables), that children are exposed to a chaotic sample of language, and only their innate capacities can account for their successful acquisition of language. McNeill, for example, wrote: "The speech of adults from which a child discovers the locally appropriate manifestation of the linguistic universals is a completely random, haphazard sample, in no way contrived to instruct the child on grammar" (1966: 73). However, Labov's (1970) studies showed that the presumed ungrammaticality of everyday speech appears to be a myth. Bellugi and Brown (1964) and Drach (1969) found that the speech addressed to children was carefully grammatical and lacked the usual hesitations and false starts common in adult-to-adult speech. Landes's (1975) summary of a wide range of research on parental input supported their conclusions. Later studies of parents' speech in the home (Hladik & Edwards 1984; Moerk 1985) confirmed earlier evidence demonstrating the selectivity of parental linguistic input to their children.

UKT: Pay attention to the case of Genie who had to learn her L1 after the age of 12 in my note on Eric Lenneberg.

At the same time, it will be remembered that children react very consistently to the deep structure and the communicative function of language, and they do not react overtly to expansions and grammatical corrections as in the "nobody likes me" dialogue quoted above. Such input is largely ignored unless there is some truth or falsity that the child can attend to. Thus, if a child says "Dat Harry" and the parent says "No, that's John," the child might readily self-correct and say "Oh, dat John." But what Landes and others showed is that in the long run, children will, after consistent, repeated models in meaningful contexts, eventually transfer correct forms to their own speech and thus correct "dat" to "that's."

The importance of the issue lies in the fact that it is clear from more recent research that adult and peer input to the child is far more important than nativists earlier believed. Adult input seems to shape the child's acquisition, and the interaction patterns between child and parent change [{p042begin}] according to the increasing language skill of the child. Nurture and environment in this case are tremendously important, although it remains to be seen just how important parental input is as a proportion of total input.

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02.10. Discourse

A subfield of research that is occupying the attention of an increasing number of child language researchers, especially in an era of social constructivist research, is the area of conversational or discourse analysis. ...

While conversation is a universal human activity performed routinely in the course of daily living, the means by which children learn to take part in conversation appear to be very complex. Sinclair and Coulthard (1975) proposed that conversations be examined in terms of initiations and responses. What might in a grammatical sentence-based model of language be described as sentences, clauses, words, and morphemes, are viewed as transactions, exchanges, moves, and acts. The child learns not only how to initiate a conversation but how to respond to another's initiating utterance. ...

Much remains to be studied in the area of the child's development of conversational knowledge (see Shatz & McCloskey 1984, and McTear 1984 for a good summary). Nevertheless, such development is perhaps the next [{p043page}] frontier to be mastered in the quest for answers to the mystery of language acquisition. Clearly there are important implications here, as we shall see in the next chapter, for L2 learners. The barrier of discourse is one of the most difficult for L2 learners to break through.

* * * * *

A number of theories and issues in child language have been explored in this chapter with the purpose of both briefly characterizing the current state of child language research and of highlighting a few of the key concepts that emerge in the formation of an understanding of how babies learn to talk and eventually become sophisticated linguistic beings. There is much to be learned in such an understanding. Every human being who attempts to learn a L2 has already learned a L1. It is said that the second time around on something is always easier. In the case of language, this is not necessarily true. But in order to understand why it is not, you need to understand the nature of that initial acquisition process, for it may be that some of the keys to the mystery are found therein. That search is continued in the next chapter as we compare and contrast L1 and L2 acquisition.

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03. In the Classroom:

Gouin and Berlitz -- The First Reformers

UKT: See my note on Gouin , and also on Berlitz.
There were two Berlitz's, the grandfather (Maximilian Berlitz) and grandson (Charles Berlitz).

In the second of our series of vignettes on classroom applications of theory, we turn the clock back about a hundred years to look in on the first two reformers in the history of "modern" language teaching, François Gouin and Charles Berlitz. Their perceptive observations about language teaching helped set the stage for the development of language teaching methodologies for the century following.

In his The Art of Learning and Studying Foreign Languages (1880), François Gouin described a painful set of experiences that finally led to his insights about language teaching. Having decided in midlife to learn German, he took up residency in Hamburg for one year. But rather than attempting to converse with the natives, he engaged in a rather bizarre sequence of attempts to "master" the language. Upon arrival in Hamburg he felt he should memorize a German grammar book and a table of the 248 irregular German verbs! He did this in a matter of only ten days and then hurried to "the academy" (the university) to test his new knowledge. "But alas!" he wrote, "I could not understand a single word, not a single word!" Gouin was undaunted. He returned to the isolation of his room, this time to memorize the German roots and to rememorize the grammar book and irregular verbs. Again he emerged with [{p044begin}] expectations of success. "But alas!" -- the result was the same as before. In the course of the year in Germany, Gouin memorized books, translated Goethe and Schiller , and even memorized 30,000 words in a German dictionary, all in the isolation of his room, only to be crushed by his failure to understand German afterward. Only once did he try to "make conversation" as a method, but because this caused people to laugh at him, he was too embarrassed to continue. At the end of the year, having reduced the Classical Method to absurdity, Gouin was forced to return home, a failure.

But there was a happy ending. Upon returning home Gouin discovered that his three-year-old nephew had, during that year, gone through that wonderful stage of child language acquisition in which he went from saying virtually nothing to becoming a veritable chatterbox of French. How was it that this little child succeeded so easily in a task, mastering a L1, that Gouin, in a second language, had found impossible? The child must hold the secret to learning a language! So Gouin spent a great deal of time observing his nephew and other children and came to the following conclusions: Language learning is primarily a matter of transforming perceptions into conceptions. Children use language to represent their conceptions. Language is a means of thinking, of representing the world to oneself. (These insights, remember, were formed by a language teacher more than a century ago!)

So Gouin set about devising a teaching method that would follow from these insights. And thus the Series Method was created, a method that taught learners directly (without translation) and conceptually (without grammatical rules and explanations) a "series" of connected sentences that are easy to perceive. The first lesson of a foreign language would thus teach the following series of fifteen sentences:

I walk toward the door. I draw near to the door. I draw nearer to the door. I get to the door. I stop at the door.

I stretch out my arm. I take hold of the handle. I turn the handle. I open the door. I pull the door.

The door moves. The door turns on its hinges. The door turns and turns. I open the door wide. I let go of the handle.

The fifteen sentences have an unconventionally large number of grammatical properties, vocabulary items, word orders, and complexity. This is no simple Voici la table  lesson ! Yet Gouin was successful with such lessons because the language was so easily understood, stored, recalled, and related to reality.

The "naturalistic" -- simulating the "natural" way in which children learn L1s-approaches of Gouin and a few of his contemporaries did not take hold immediately. A generation later, largely through the efforts of Charles Berlitz, applied linguists finally [{p045begin}] established the credibility of such approaches in what became known as the Direct Method.

The basic premise of Berlitz's method was that L2 learning should be more like L1 learning: lots of active oral interaction, spontaneous use of the language, no translation between first and second languages, and little or no analysis of grammatical rules. Richards and Rodgers (1986: 9-10) summarized the principles of the Direct Method :

1. Classroom instruction was conducted exclusively in the target language.
2. Only everyday vocabulary and sentences were taught.
3. Oral communication skills were built up in a carefully graded progression organized around question-and-answer exchanges between teachers and students in small, intensive classes.
4. Grammar was taught inductively.
5. New teaching points were introduced orally.
6. Concrete vocabulary was taught through demonstration, objects, and pictures; abstract vocabulary was taught by association of ideas.
7. Both speech and listening comprehension were taught.
8. Correct pronunciation and grammar were emphasized.

The Direct Method enjoyed considerable popularity through the end of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth. It was most widely accepted in private language schools where students were highly motivated and where native-speaking teachers could be employed. To this day, "Berlitz" is a household word; Berlitz language schools are thriving in every country of the world. But almost any "method" can succeed when clients are willing to pay high prices for small classes, individual attention, and intensive study. The Direct Method did not take well in public education, where the constraints of budget, classroom size, time, and teacher back-ground made the method difficult to use. Moreover, the Direct Method was criticized for its weak theoretical foundations. The methodology was not so much to be credited for its success as the general skill and personality of the teacher.

By the end of the first quarter of the twentieth century, the use of the Direct Method had declined both in Europe and in the United States. Most language curricula returned to the Grammar Translation Method or to a "reading approach" that emphasized reading skills in foreign languages. But it is interesting that in the middle of the twentieth century, the Direct Method was revived and redirected into what was probably the most visible of all language teaching "revolutions" in the modern era, the Audiolingual Method (see Chapter 3). So even this somewhat short-lived movement in language teaching would reappear in the changing winds and shifting sands of history.

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Note: Items listed below are coded for either individual (Individual) work, group/pair (Group) work, or whole-class (Class) discussion, as suggestions to the instructor on how to incorporate the topics and questions into a class session.

1. (Group) In a small group, discuss why it is that behavioristic theories can account sufficiently well for the earliest utterances of the child, but not for utterances at the sentence and discourse level. Do nativistic and functional approaches provide the necessary tools for accounting for those later, more complex utterances?

2. (Group/Class) If you can, with a partner, try to record on tape samples of a young child's speech. A child of about three is an ideal subject to observe in the study of growing competence in a language. Transcribe a segment of your recording and see if, inductively, you can determine some of the rules the child is using. Present your findings to the rest of the class for discussion.

3. (Individual) Review the sections that dealt with Universal Grammar. Is it something different from the nativists' concept of LAD?

4. (Group) In a group, look at the two samples of speech on pages 31 and 32 (one by a five-year-old, and the other by a professional golfer). Identify what you would consider to be "performance variables" in those transcripts. Then, try to reconstruct an "idealized" form of the two monologues, and share with other groups.

5. (Class) Competence and performance are difficult to define. In what sense are they interdependent? How does competence increase? Can it decrease? Try to illustrate with non-language examples of learning certain skills, such as musical or athletic skills.

6. (Group) In a group, recall experiences learning a foreign language at some point in your past. Share with others any examples of your comprehension exceeding your production abilities. How about the reverse? Share your findings with the rest of the class.

7. (Individual) Name some forms of language and some functions of language. In your own experience learning a previous foreign language, did you experience any difficulty with the latter?

8. (Class) In what way do you think Gouin reflected some ideas about language and about language acquisition that are now current more than a hundred years later? Would the Series Method or the Direct Method work for you as a teacher? Discuss pros and cons.

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• Carroll, David W 1994. Psychology of Language. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

• Holzman, Mathilda. 1998. The Language of Children. Second Edition. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Brown's note: Most of the topics covered in this chapter are given full treatment in these two textbooks, which survey issues in L1 acquisition.

• Pinker, Steven. 1994. The Language Instinct. New York: William Morrow and Company.

Brown's note: Steven Pinker's book hit the best seller list a few years ago. It offers a wealth of information for the lay reader on such topics as child language acquisition, innateness, thought and language, and linguistics in general.

• Cook, V. and Newson, M. 1996. Chomsky's Universal Grammar: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.

• Saleemi, A. 1992. Universal Grammar and Language Learnability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brown's note: These two books provide introductory surveys of research on Universal Grammar. They are more readable than the technical research studies themselves, which are often difficult to comprehend without a substantive background in linguistic theory.

• Bickerton, Derek. 1981. Roots of Language. Ann Arbor, MI: Karoma Publishers.

Brown's note: Derek Bickerton's book, which focuses principally on the topic of creolization, also outlines his theory of bioprogramming mentioned in this chapter.

• Diller, Karl C. 1978. The Language Teaching Controversy. Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers.

Brown's note: A summary of François Gouin's language learning experiences and his Series Method can be found in this survey of language methodology .

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[Note: See pages 18 and 19 of Chapter 1 for general guidelines for writing a journal on a previous or concurrent language learning experience.] ...

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UKT notes

a game of words

"A Game of Words: the Ambiguities of Language in Great Expectations and Through the Looking-Glass" by Katie Krauskopf '97 (English 73, 1995) www.victorianweb.org/victorian/dickens/ge/language.htm

"So here's a question for you. How old did you say you were?" Alice made a short calculation and said, "Seven years and six months." "Wrong!" Humpty Dumpty exclaimed triumphantly. "You never said a word like it!" "I thought you meant 'How old are you?'" Alice explained. "If I'd meant that, I'd have said it," said Humpty Dumpty (Lewis Carrol, Through the Looking-Glass).

"What is he prepared to swear?" "Well, Mas'r Jaggers," said Mike, wiping his nose on his fur cap this time; "in a general way, anythink." Mr. Jaggers suddenly became most irate. "Now, I warned you before," said he, throwing his forefinger at the terrified client, "that if ever you presumed to talk in that way here, I'd make an example of you. You infernal scoundrel, how dare you tell ME that?" The client looked scared, but bewildered too, as if he were unconscious what he had done.... "Now I ask you, you blundering booby," said my guardian very sternly, "once more and for the last time, what the man you have brought here is prepared to swear?" Mike looked hard at my guardian, as if he were trying to learn a lesson from his face, and slowly replied, "Ayther to character, or to having been in his company and never left him all the night in question." "Now, be careful. In what station of life is this man?" Mike looked at his cap, and looked at the floor, and looked at the ceiling, and looked at the clerk, and even looked at me, before beginning to reply in a nervous manner, "we've dressed him up like-" when my guardian blustered out: "What? you WILL, will you?"... After some helpless casting about, Mike brightened and began again: "He is dressed like a 'spectable pieman. A sort of a pastry-cook." "Is he here?" asked my guardian. "I left him," said Mike, "a-setting on some doorsteps round the corner." (Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, pp.155-156)

      The games begin immediately for Alice when she encounters Humpty Dumpty during her Looking-Glass wanderings, as they do for Mike as soon as he enters Jaggers's infamous law office. What exactly are these so-called games that both Dickens and Carroll invent? They are the games that can be played with the ambiguities of language.
     Humpty Dumpty greatly frustrates Alice by toying with the double meaning of the question "how old did you say you were?", presenting Alice with a question she had not thought she had been asked. A similar circumstance occurs just before Alice first meets Humpty Dumpty. In this situation, it is Alice who uses the ambiguous nature of language to her advantage. "And how exactly like an egg he is!" she said aloud... "It's very provoking," Humpty Dumpty said after a long silence..."to be called an egg-very!" "I said you looked like an egg, Sir" (Through the Looking-Glass, p.159). Dickens also demonstrates the ambiguity in the English language. Jaggers's very success as a lawyer depends upon it. Double meanings and unclear interpretations allow him to be just vague enough to gather information from his witnesses and clients, such as Mike, without obtaining knowledge that would incriminate himself. Jaggers is not the only character in Great Expectations who experiences the dual nature of English as a language. When Pip is a young boy, his literal interpretation (based on experience) of the expression "to be brought up by hand" is amusing and also poignant. In using ambiguous language, authors such as Carroll and Dickens present a broad spectrum of emotions to their readers. It is a device that can serve to frustrate, humor or instill empathy.
     "The decade of the 1860s was also the signal decade of the new philology in England. Philological discussion connected, in the popular mind, with a sense of breakthrough in many other historical and comparative disciplines" (Dennis Taylor. Hardy's Literary Language and Victorian Philology. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993. p.97). This quest to establish the authentic meaning of written texts and documents perhaps sheds some light on why Carroll and Dickens were so fond of playing with language. Whether they were doing so in order to prove a point about the difficulties surrounding that quest, or if it was simply just a device that they both thought effective is a difficult question to answer.

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Benjamin Whorf (1897-1941)

From Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Whorf 080221

Benjamin Lee Whorf (April 24, 1897 in Winthrop, Massachusetts – July 26, 1941) was an American linguist. Whorf, along with Edward Sapir, is best known for having laid the foundation of the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.

The son of Harry and Sarah (Lee) Whorf, Benjamin Lee Whorf graduated from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 1918 with a degree in chemical engineering. Shortly thereafter, he began work as a fire prevention engineer (inspector) for the Hartford Fire Insurance Company, pursuing linguistic and anthropological studies as an avocation.
   In 1931, Whorf began studying linguistics at Yale University and soon deeply impressed Edward Sapir, who warmly supported Whorf's academic pursuits. In 1936, Whorf was appointed Honorary Research Fellow in Anthropology at Yale. In 1937, Yale awarded him the Sterling Fellowship. He was a Lecturer in Anthropology from 1937 through 1938, when he began having serious health problems.
   Whorf said that having an independent, non-academic source of income allowed him to pursue his specific academic interests more freely. Although he never took up linguistics as a profession, his contributions to the field were nevertheless profound, and have proved influential down to the present day. He disseminated his ideas not only by publishing numerous technical articles, but also by writings accessible to lay readers, and by popular lectures (reportedly, he was a captivating speaker).
   Whorf's primary area of interest in linguistics was the study of Native American languages, particularly those of Mesoamerica. He became quite well known for his work on the Hopi language, and for a theory he called the principle of linguistic relativity. Among Whorf's most fascinating findings while studying the Hopi was that: “… the Hopi language is seen to contain no words, grammatical forms, construction or expressions or that refer directly to what we call “time”, or to past, present, or future…'
   [{UKT: Why did Whorf used the word "relativity"? Was he thinking of another very famous theory with a similar name though from another discipline "General Relativity Theory" of Einstein being developed in the years 1907-1915? -- my own question 080221}].
   The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis primarily dealt with the way that language affects thought. Also sometimes called the Whorfian hypothesis, this theory claims that the language a person speaks affects the way that he or she thinks, meaning that the structure of the language itself affects cognition.
   Some of Whorf's early work on linguistics and particularly on linguistic relativity was inspired by reports he wrote on insurance losses, in which misunderstanding based on linguistic confusion had been a contributing factor. In an incident recounted in his essay " The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language," (Whorf, 1956/1997), Whorf explains how the idea of language affecting thought first came to him. Employed as an investigator for a fire insurance company, his job was to investigate the causes of industrial fires. In his own words:

"My analysis was directed toward purely physical conditions, such as defective wiring, presence of lack of air spaces between metal flues and woodwork, etc., and the results were presented in these terms. ... But in due course it became evident that not only a physical situation qua physics, but the meaning of that situation to people, was sometimes a factor, through the behavior of people, in the start of a fire. And this factor of meaning was clearest when it was a LINGUISTIC MEANING [Whorf's emphasis], residing in the name or the linguistic description commonly applied to this situation. Thus, around a storage of what are called 'gasoline drums,' behavior will tend to a certain type, that is, great care will be exercised; while around a storage of what are called 'empty gasoline drums,' it will tend to be different -- careless, with little repression of smoking or of tossing cigarette stubs about. Yet the 'empty' drums are perhaps the more dangerous, since they contain explosive vapor. Physically, the situation is hazardous, but the linguistic analysis according to regular analogy must employ the word 'empty,' which inevitably suggests a lack of hazard. The word 'empty' is used in two linguistic patterns: (1) as a virtual synonym for 'null and void, negative, inert,' (2) applied in analysis of physical situations without regard to, e.g., vapor, liquid vestiges, or stray rubbish, in the container." (Whorf, 1956, p. 135)

In studying the cause of a fire which had started under the conditions just described, Whorf concluded that it was thinking of the "empty" gasoline drums as "empty" in the meaning described in the first definition (1) above, that is as "inert," which led to a fire he investigated. His papers and lectures featured many other examples from his insurance work to support his belief that language shapes understanding.
   Less well known, but important, are his contributions to the study of the Nahuatl and Maya languages. He claimed that Nahuatl was an oligosynthetic language (a claim that would be brought up again some twenty years later by Morris Swadesh, another controversial American linguist). In a series of published and unpublished studies in the 1930s, he argued that Mayan writing was phonetic to some degree. Although many details of his work on Maya are now known to have been incorrect, his central claim was vindicated by Yuri Knorozov's syllabic decipherment of Mayan writing in the 1950s.
   Whorf died of cancer at the age of 44. He is mainly remembered for a posthumous collection of his work, titled Language, Thought, and Reality, first published in 1956.

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B. F. Skinner (1904-1990)

• Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._F._Skinner 080219
• Operant Conditioning. http://www.psychology.org/
• Dr. C. G. Boeree www.ship.edu .
• D.G. Likely, www.unb.ca/psychology/likely

From Wikipedia

Burrhus Frederic Skinner (Mar 20, 1904 - Aug 18, 1990), Ph.D. was a highly influential American psychologist, author, inventor, advocate for social reform and poet. He was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until retirement in 1974. He invented the operant conditioning chamber, innovated his own philosophy of science called Radical Behaviorism, and founded his own school of experimental research psychology — the experimental analysis of behavior. His analysis of human behavior culminated in his work Verbal Behavior, which has recently seen enormous increase in interest experimentally and in applied settings. He discovered and advanced the rate of response as a dependent variable in psychological research. He invented the cumulative recorder to measure rate of responding as part of his highly influential work on schedules of reinforcement. In a recent survey, Skinner was listed as the most influential psychologist of the 20th century. He was a prolific author, publishing 21 books and 180 articles.

From Operant Conditioning

The theory of B.F. Skinner is based upon the idea that learning is a function of change in overt behavior. Changes in behavior are the result of an individual's response to events (stimuli) that occur in the environment. A response produces a consequence such as defining a word, hitting a ball, or solving a math problem. When a particular Stimulus-Response (S-R) pattern is reinforced (rewarded), the individual is conditioned to respond. The distinctive characteristic of operant conditioning relative to previous forms of behaviorism (e.g., Thorndike, Hull) is that the organism can emit responses instead of only eliciting response due to an external stimulus.
     Reinforcement is the key element in Skinner's S-R theory. A reinforcer is anything that strengthens the desired response. It could be verbal praise, a good grade or a feeling of increased accomplishment or satisfaction. The theory also covers negative reinforcers -- any stimulus that results in the increased frequency of a response when it is withdrawn (different from adversive stimuli -- punishment -- which result in reduced responses). A great deal of attention was given to schedules of reinforcement (e.g. interval versus ratio) and their effects on establishing and maintaining behavior.
     One of the distinctive aspects of Skinner's theory is that it attempted to provide behavioral explanations for a broad range of cognitive phenomena. For example, Skinner explained drive (motivation) in terms of deprivation and reinforcement schedules. Skinner (1957) tried to account for verbal learning and language within the operant conditioning paradigm, although this effort was strongly rejected by linguists and psycholinguists. Skinner (1971) deals with the issue of free will and social control.

From: Dr. C. G. Boeree

SKINNER, Burrhus Frederic  1904-1990.
     B. F. Skinner was born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, to a lawyer-father and a strong and intelligent housewife-mother.  His upbringing was old-fashioned and hard-working. He received his BA in English from Hamilton College, New York State, but the college with its requirement of students attending chapel every day did not suit Skinner who was an atheist. After trying unsuccessfully to be a writer of short stories and poetry, he wrote newspaper articles on labor problems. He lived as a "bohemian" for sometime in the Greenwich Village, New York City. He went back to school at Harvard where he got his masters in psychology in 1930 and his doctorate in 1931. He became the chairman of the psychology department at Indiana University in 1945.  From 1948 until he died he was at Harvard doing research, guiding hundreds of doctoral candidates and writing many books.  Though not successful as a writer of fiction and poetry, he became one of the best psychology writers, including the book Walden II, which is a fictional account of a community run by his behaviorist principles. He was perhaps the most celebrated psychologist since Sigmund Freud.
     Theory. B. F. Skinner’s entire system is based on operant conditioning.  The organism is in the process of “operating” on the environment, which in ordinary terms means it is bouncing around it world, doing what it does.  During this “operating,” the organism encounters a special kind of stimulus, called a reinforcing stimulus, or simply a reinforcer.  This special stimulus has the effect of increasing the operant -- that is, the behavior occurring just before the reinforcer.  This is operant conditioning:  “the behavior is followed by a consequence, and the nature of the consequence modifies the organisms tendency to repeat the behavior in the future.”

From: D. G. Likely

C. B. Ferster & B. F. Skinner's 1957 book, Schedules of reinforcement, provides records of thousands of operant responses. For many years thereafter, more and more complicated combinations of reinforcement schedules were tested using an increasing variety of species. There is no doubt that these experiments produced (mostly) orderly behaviour but by 1970 there was considerable question as to whether the findings could usefully be applied to situations less artificial that those obtaining in Skinner boxes. Skinner had deliberately eschewed theoretical analysis in favour of behavioural control but others mistook the operational simplicity of the operant preparation for a vastly oversimplified account of animal and human psychology. (The difficulty in analysing precisely how a reinforcement schedule controls behaviour is discussed in Mackintosh, 1974, p. 168f.)

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Charles Berlitz (1914-2003)

From: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Berlitz 080220

Charles Frambach Berlitz (November 20, 1914 – December 18, 2003) was a linguist and language teacher known for his books on anomalous phenomena, as well as his language-learning courses. He is listed in People's Almanac as one of fifteen most eminent linguists in the world and was awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld International Prize for Non-fiction in 1976 for The Bermuda Triangle (1974), which sold over 20 million copies. He was a brilliant polyglot and spoke 32 languages

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Charles Osgood's Mediational theory

From First Edition of A First Look at Communication Theory by Em Griffin, © 1991, McGraw-Hill, Inc. www.afirstlook.com

     Theories based on Skinner's theory of language acquisition claimed that words take on the meaning of their referent through the process of paired association. Thus if a child hears someone say "thunder" almost every time there's a rumble in the sky, she would associate the word thunder with the noise and nothing else. However, an adult who knows that thunder and lightning (the static electrical discharge) can come together, would not go out swimming in the lake whereas the child would. According to Osgood "words represent things because they produce some replica of the actual behavior toward these things, as a mediation process." (Ref.11.) This "representational mediated process" occurs on a more complex mental level than sensation or perception. It mirrors not what the word is, nor what we think it should be, but what it signifies.
     Osgood's theory is in direct contradiction to Whorf's hypothesis of linguistic relativity. Whorf claimed that language shapes thought. Osgood says it’s the other way around.
     Ref. 11: Charles E. Osgood, "The Nature and Measurement of Meaning," Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 49, No. 3, 1952, p. 204

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Cognitive and affective considerations

From: AHTD and unknown source

cognitive adj. 1. Of, characterized by, involving, or relating to cognition: “ Thinking in terms of dualisms is common in our cognitive culture ” Key Reporter  2. Having a basis in or reducible to empirical factual knowledge. -- AHTD

affective adj. 1. Psychology Influenced by or resulting from the emotions: affective disorders. 2. Concerned with or arousing feelings or emotions; emotional. -- AHTD

A child learns a language without knowing it. The child is still free from emotions such as self-doubt and learns L1 without much effort. Whereas, an adult has become a creature of emotions. Self-doubt is creeping up on him with the result that L2 learning becomes more difficult. -- UKT: My regret: source lost

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From Connectionism by J.W. Garson, in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/connectionsim.htm

Connectionism is a movement in cognitive science which hopes to explain human intellectual abilities using artificial neural networks (also known as ‘neural networks’ or ‘neural nets’). Neural networks are simplified models of the brain composed of large numbers of units (the analogs of neurons) together with weights that measure the strength of connections between the units. These weights model the effects of the synapses that link one neuron to another. Experiments on models of this kind have demonstrated an ability to learn such skills as face recognition, reading, and the detection of simple grammatical structure.
     Philosophers have become interested in connectionism because it promises to provide an alternative to the classical theory of the mind: the widely held view that the mind is something akin to a digital computer processing a symbolic language. Exactly how and to what extent the connectionist paradigm constitutes a challenge to classicism has been a matter of hot debate in recent years.

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Dan Slobin

Based on http://ihd.berkeley.edu/slobincv.htm

Dan I. Slobin, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California at Berkeley. Professor, Department of Psychology, Research Psychologist, Institute of Human Development,  Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences, University of California at Berkeley .

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Dietrich Tiedemann

From: www.unb.ca/psychology/likely/headlines/C1780_99.htm

Dietrich Tiedemann (1748-1803), a German philosopher, seems to have been the first person to prepare and publish an extended infant biography, in 1787. It may be not be overstated to say that the idea of childhood as a special period of natural development was invented in the last half of the 18th century. This isn't to say that before that, people did not love their children, merely to suggest that children were regarded much as we regard rather incompetent adults.

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Eric Lenneberg

Eric H. Lenneberg (1921-1975). Based on Second Language Acquisition in Didactis - Lectures in SLA & EFL: Cours de licence d'anglais by Timothy Mason, Université de Versailles St. Quentin http://www.uvsq.fr

The neuropsychologist Eric Lenneberg, in his book Biological Foundations of Language, 1967, the capacity to learn a language is indeed innate, and, like many such inborn mechanisms, it is circumscribed in time. If a child does not learn a language before the onset of puberty, the child will never master language at all. This is known as the CPH (critical period hypothesis). This theory was cited to be proven in the case of Genie who had to learn her L1 after the age of 12. However T. Mason stated that "Genie's lack of progress with language is ... quoted, capable of interpretation either in a Chomskian framework, or in line with Bruner's ideas. Her experience does suggest that, over a certain age, any child who has not learnt a language will have great difficulty in acquiring one. Lenneberg's hypothesis is not proven, but it is strongly supported." This theory was again tested in the case of Chelsea who was born deaf and whose problem was not diagnosed until she was 31. ... "After therapy, she now scores on IQ tests at levels for a normal ten year old, she works at a vet’s, reads, writes and communicates. But when she speaks, she produces strings of words, with no apparent underlying syntactic structure. Her utterances may be comprehensible in context, but they look nothing like normal sentences." "Other evidence from deaf people is also interesting. Recently, linguists have been showing more and more interest in the language of the hard-of-hearing -- Sign language. We now know that Sign Language is a full language -- it has a full lexical range, it has a complex syntax, and a complex system of signs, whose relationship to referents is as arbitrary as is that of other languages -- even when they seem most iconic. There is not simply one sign language -- people who use British Sign Language cannot understand people who use ASL -- neither language is directly related to English. People who learn to sign in adolescence or adulthood are very similar to people who learn a foreign language -- they have an accent, and they never master the more arcane syntactic rules. Children who learn do master the language -- and, according to Steven Pinker, they master it even when they learn from parents who do not speak it properly. Once again, this is suggestive -- children are specially programmed to learn a language, and they lose this skill at puberty -- once again, both Chomsky's and Lenneberg's positions appear to be vindicated."

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Francois Gouin (1831-1896)

UKT: Not listed in Wikipedia 08021
For a more comprehensive description on Gouin see A.P.R. Howatt's A History of English Language Teaching, ISBN 0-19-437075-5.

Excerpt from A.P.R. Howatt:
     "Gouin published his major work, The Art of Teaching and Studying Languages in Paris in 1880 on the eve of the Reform Movement, but it had actually been written much earlier and printed privately in Geneva, where he owned a language school for a time. The English translation appeared in London in 1892.
     The work of the contemporary Reform Movement attracted public attention to the inadequacy of traditional schoolroom methods of language teaching, and Gouin had a clear, easily understood and methodologically simple alternative to offer in the shape of the famous 'series' technique. He benefited from the 'new wave', but he did not directly contribute to it. The origins of the 'series' have passed into the folklore of language teaching and we shall return to them in a moment. First, however, the 'series' itself.
     Gouin's central concept was that the structure of a language text reflected the structure of the experience it described. For reasons which we shall come to, he believed that sequentiality was the primary feature of experience and that all events could be described in terms of a 'series' of smaller component events, so that, for example, opening the door could be analysed into moving towards "the door, turning the handle, opening it, holding it open, and so on. This sequential structure provided the framework for the associated language: I am walking to the door, I am standing by the door, I am turning the handle, etc., and the familiarity of happenings of this kind helped the learner to understand the new language and remember it more efficiently. Gouin also argued, less convincingly, that describing experiences of this kind was intrinsically motivating. Sweet [{Henry Sweet (1845-1912)?}], for one, was not impressed: 'some of the series, such as that which gives a detailed description of opening and shutting a door ... are as uninteresting as they are useless'.  Gouin's own example from his book is the celebrated log-chopping incident which, presumably, was intended to demonstrate how the most unassuming events of life could be put to useful service. He claimed four particular advantages for the exercise:

1. Each phrase expressing a detail, a new fact, the repetition of the same subjects and same complements, has not the character of an ordinary repetition, of a repetition pure and simple. Owing to this new detail, this step made in advance in each phrase, neither tediousness nor fatigue is to be feared

2. This natural repetition of the same nouns, this constant and periodic return of the thought towards the same object, this reiterated effort of the representative or visualising faculty upon the same idea, is not all this the graver's tool which engraves the ideas and their expressions upon the memory?

3. This same repetition, this perpetual recurrence of the same sounds, is not this the essential condition, is not this the most sure and solid guarantee of a good pronunciation?

4. The listener, feeling himself safe in this repetition of subjects and complements, turns the principal effort of his attention quite naturally upon the verb. But the verb, which is the soul of the phrase, the most important and precious element of the sentence, is at the same time the most difficult to conquer and to keep. It is important, therefore, that the attention should be fixed entirely upon this term. Now, by means of the before-mentioned evolution, all the visual rays of the intelligence are verily concentrated upon a solitary fact, the action -- upon a solitary word, the verb.  After this enthusiastic introduction, we come to the exercise itself:

The maid chops a log of wood.  
The maid goes and seeks her hatchet.
The maid takes a log of wood.
The maid draws near to the chopping-block.
The maid kneels down near this block.
The maid places the log of wood upright upon this block.
draws near
kneels down
The maid raises her hatchet.
The maid brings down her hatchet.
The hatchet cleaves the air.
The blade strikes the wood.
The blade buries itself in the wood.
The blade cleaves the wood.
The two pieces fall to the ground.
brings down
buries itself
The maid picks up these pieces.
The maid chops them again and again to the size desired.
The maid stands up again.
The maid carries back the hatchet to its place.
picks up
chops again
stands up
carries back

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Goethe and Schiller

by UKT

François Gouin who spoke French had mastered the written German language and could translate the works in German by writers such as Goethe and Schiller, to French. Yet he could not converse (speak) in German with the native Germans. My view is that the written language and the spoken language are almost totally different as means of communication. Thus the teaching the two should follow different lines. For a Myanmar who would remain in Myanmar and who need to know English to exchange ideas exclusively, the written English language would be more important than the spoken. Teaching ESL to him should be different from teaching ESL to a Myanmar immigrant in the United States. The following is from AHTD:

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. (1749-1832)  1. German writer and scientist. A master of poetry, drama, and the novel, he spent 50 years on his two-part dramatic poem Faust (published 1808 and 1832). He also conducted scientific research in various fields, notably botany, and held several governmental positions. -- AHTD  

Schiller , Johann Christoph Friedrich von. (1759-1805) 1. German writer. A leading romanticist, he is best known for his historical plays, such as Don Carlos (1787) and Wallenstein (1798-1799), and for his long, didactic poems. -- AHTD

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James Jenkins

From: T. Nicholson, How do children learn to read? The debate of the 1990s: Academics taking a stand.  www.arts.auckland.ac.nz/edu/School/TomN/inauguar.htm

     "James Jenkins, a psycholinguist, who had been through the linguistic debates of the 1950s between B.F. Skinner and Noam Chomsky. Jenkins did many studies to validate the behavioural view of language acquisition but one day realised that the theory must be wrong. So he converted to Chomsky's cognitive view that language acquisition can't be taught, and is an ability that is built into us by evolution, just like the ability to walk. ... "

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Jean Piaget (1896-1980)

• Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Piaget 080218
• xrefer.com. Piaget Jean 1896 1980 -- not accessible 080218

From Wikipedia

Jean Piaget [ʒɑ̃ pjaʒɛ] (Aug 9, 1896 – Sep 16, 1980) was a Swiss philosopher, natural scientist and developmental psychologist, well known for his work studying children, his theory of cognitive development and for his epistemological view called " genetic epistemology". He created in 1955 the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva and directed it until 1980. According to Ernst von Glasersfeld, Jean Piaget is "the great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing" [

From www.xrefer.com

Swiss psychologist noted for his studies of thought processes in children and widely regarded as one of the most important psychologists of the twentieth century. His descriptions of the development of perception, reason, and logic changed the current views of children's intelligence and greatly influenced methods of child education, particularly in the USA.
   Piaget began to observe behaviour patterns at an early age, publishing his observations of an albino sparrow when he was ten years old. At fifteen his writings on molluscs were known internationally and at twenty-two he obtained his doctorate from the University of Neuchâtel. After two years at the Sorbonne he was appointed director of the Institut J.-J. Rousseau in Geneva and in 1929 became the professor of psychology at the University of Geneva; in 1955 he was made director of the International Centre of Genetic Epistemology, Geneva.
   Piaget had intended to study the development of thought processes in children in order to elucidate the inherent mental structures of humans. His earliest research, which focused on why children fail reasoning tests, led to the long-term study of child intelligence. He suggested that mental growth was determined by interplay of both developing innate structures and environmental influences, an interaction he termed 'equilibration'. Equilibration supposes that when a new experience is assimilated into a child's concept of the world, the concept becomes inadequate and a new, more complex, concept must be invented to accommodate the new information. Equilibrium is then maintained until further experiences require another change of concept. Such a precept requires the existence of logic from early infancy, with intelligence being developed by progressive refinement of cognitive ability by a flexible process of trial and error. Piaget defined the development of children's thinking as a four-stage process, beginning with the sensorimotor stage in infants, who learn from experience by connecting new with older experiences. In the preoperational stage (two to seven years), a child can use words and manipulate them mentally. From seven to twelve years a child begins to think logically and can compare and differentiate, and from twelve to adulthood begins to experiment with formal logic and can think flexibly.
   In his later work, Piaget attempted to describe the interactions of cognitive and emotional factors within his four-stage framework. He was a prolific writer, publishing many articles and over thirty books, including The Origin of Intelligence in Children (1954) and The Early Growth of Logic in the Child(1964).
     Who's Who in the Twentieth Century, Oxford University Press, © Market House Books Ltd 1999

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Jerome Bruner

From Wikepedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome_Bruner 080223

Jerome Seymour Bruner (born Oct1 1915) is an American psychologist who has contributed to cognitive psychology and cognitive learning theory in educational psychology and to the general philosophy of education. Bruner is currently a senior research fellow at the New York University School of Law. Bruner's ideas are based on categorization. "To perceive is to categorize, to conceptualize is to categorize, to learn is to form categories, to make decisions is to categorize." Bruner maintains people interpret the world in terms of its similarities and differences. Like Bloom's Taxonomy, Bruner suggests a system of coding in which people form a hierarchical arrangement of related categories. Each successively higher level of categories becomes more specific, echoing Benjamin Bloom's understanding of knowledge acquisition as well as the related idea of instructional scaffolding.

He has also suggested that there are two primary modes of thought: the narrative mode and the paradigmatic mode. In narrative thinking, the mind engages in sequential, action-oriented, detail-driven thought. In paradigmatic thinking, the mind transcends particularities to achieve systematic, categorical cognition. In the former case, thinking takes the form of stories and "gripping drama." In the latter, thinking is structured as propositions linked by logical operators.

In his research on the development of children (1966), Bruner proposed three modes of representation: enactive representation (action-based), iconic representation (image-based), and symbolic representation (language-based). Rather than neatly delineated stages, the modes of representation are integrated and only loosely sequential as they "translate" into each other. Symbolic representation remains the ultimate mode, for it "is clearly the most mysterious of the three." Bruner's theory suggests it is efficacious when faced with new material to follow a progression from enactive to iconic to symbolic representation; this holds true even for adult learners. A true instructional designer, Bruner's work also suggests that a learner (even of a very young age) is capable of learning any material so long as the instruction is organized appropriately, in sharp contrast to the beliefs of Piaget and other stage theorists.

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Kenneth MacCorquodale

• Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_MacCorquodale 080223
• Humbolt and the Cartesian tradition, Chapter 3. http://mitpress2.mit.edu/e-books/chomsky/3/2.htm
   -- no longer accessible 080223
   -- See http://cognet.mit.edu/library/books/chomsky/chomsky/3/6.html 080223

From  Wikipedia

Kenneth MacCorquodale was an American psychologist who played a major role in developing scientifically-validated operant conditioning methods. He was a student of B. F. Skinner at the University of Minnesota and became prominent in his field.
   See: • MacCorquodale's On Chomsky's review of Skinner's Verbal Behavior.

From Humbolt and the Cartesian tradition

Kenneth MacCorquodale published a counterattack called "On Chomsky's Review of Skinner's Verbal Behavior" in a 1970 issue of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. He fails, however, to address the issues raised by Chomsky relating to language and verbal behavior: "The hypothesis of Verbal Behavior is simply that the facts of verbal behavior are in the domain of the facts from which the system has been constructed. Skinner's stratagem is to find plausible referents in the speech episode for the laws and terms in his explanatory system: stimulus, response, reinforcement, and motivation. The relevance of these laws and their component variables for the verbal events is hypothesized only; it is not dogmatically claimed" (185). Chomsky himself replied in the journal Cognition that "MacCorquodale assumes that I was attempting to disprove Skinner's theses, and he points out that I present no data to disprove them. But my point, rather, was to demonstrate that when Skinner's assertions are taken literally, they are wrong on the face of it . . . or else quite vacuous" ("Psychology" 11).

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LAD (Language Acquisition Device)

• Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_acquisition_device 080223
• "Is there a Device for Language Acquisition?" by John Woodsworth http://kanadacha.ca/academic/device.html 080223

From Wikipedia

The Language Acquisition Device (LAD) is a postulated "organ" of the brain that is supposed to function as a congenital device for learning symbolic language (i.e., language acquisition). First proposed by Noam Chomsky, the LAD concept is a component of the nativist theory of language which dominates contemporary formal linguistics, which asserts that humans are born with the instinct or "innate facility" for acquiring language.
   Chomsky motivated the LAD hypothesis by what he perceived as intractable complexity of language acquisition, citing the notion of " infinite use of finite means" proposed by Wilhelm von Humboldt. At the time it was conceived (1957–1965), the LAD concept was in strict contrast to B.F. Skinner's behavioral psychology which emphasized principles of learning theory such as classical and operant conditioning and imitation over biological predisposition. The interactionist theory of Jerome Bruner and Jean Piaget later emphasized the importance of the interaction between biological and social (nature and nurture) aspects of language acquisition.
   Chomsky (1965) set out an innate language schema which provides the basis for the child’s acquisition of a language. The acquisition process takes place despite the limited nature of the primary linguistic data (PLD, the input signals received) and the degenerate nature (frequent incorrect usage, utterances of partial sentences) of that data. Given this poverty of the stimulus, a language acquisition model requires a number of components. Firstly, the child must have a technique for representing input signals and, secondly, a way of representing structural information about them. Thirdly, there must be some initial delimitation of the class of possible language structure hypotheses. Fourthly, the child requires a method for determining what each of these hypotheses implies with respect to each sentence. Finally, an additional method is needed by which the child can select which hypothesis is compatible with the PLD.
   Equipped with this endowment, first language learning is explained as performed by a LAD progressing through the following stages:
   1. The device searches the class of language structure hypotheses and selects those compatible with input signals and structural information drawn from the PLD.
   2. The device then tests the compatibility using the knowledge of implications of each hypothesis for the sentences.
   3. One hypothesis or ‘grammar’ is selected as being compatible with the PLD.
   4. This grammar provides the device with a method of interpreting sentences (by virtue of its capacity for internally representing structural information and applying the grammar to sentences).
   Through this process the device constructs a theory of the language of which the PLD are a sample. Chomsky argues that in this way, the child comes to know a great deal more than she has ‘learned’, acquiring a knowledge of language, which "goes far beyond the presented primary linguistic data and is in no sense an 'inductive generalization' from these data."
   In some views of language acquisition, the LAD is thought to become unavailable after a certain age — the critical period hypothesis (i.e., is subject to maturational constraints).
   Chomsky has gradually abandoned the LAD in favour of a parameter-setting model of language acquisition (principles and parameters).

From: John Woodsworth

The aim of this paper is to question some of the assumptions underlying recent psycholinguistic thought about L1 acquisition, as exemplified in David McNeill's paper "Developmental psycholinguistics" presented at a conference in the United States in 1966 on "Language development in children".  We also intend to examine some other ideas on language structure with a view to presenting some alternative proposals to those of McNeill.  We shall begin with a brief summary of McNeill's position.

Summary of McNeill's paper
Acknowledging the now generally held view that children's language reflects the development of their own grammatical system rather than a poor imitation of adult grammar (cf. also Smith 1971: 51-55), McNeill categorises the components of infants' first two-word utterances as members of a pivot and open class respectively [{see Pivot Grammar in my notes}], and cites sample utterance-components recorded in three studies (Braine, Brown, Ervin) to illustrate his proposed classification.  According to another study (Brown & Bellugi) cited by McNeill, the 'pivot' class (which, unlike the 'open' class, could not alone comprise an utterance) is subsequently differentiated -- first to distinguish articles and demonstratives, then adjectives and possessive pronouns.
   In the absence of any other satisfactory explanation, McNeill takes the pivot/open class distinction as the child's attempt at a "generic classification of adult grammatical categories" (1966: 31), and relates it to the notion of 'semi-grammaticality' described by Noam Chomsky (see McNeill 1966: 32-35) in terms of category hierarchy.  Proceeding to the analysis of three-word utterances, he formulates two hierarchical rules, which, while they "do not generate well-formed sentences according to adult grammar" (1966: 44), at least generate the major constituents of such sentences ('NP' and 'PredP').
   McNeill rejects the notion that these rules, categories and hierarchy could be derived through imitation of or inference from adult speech, or even on the basis of distributional evidence in adult speech (in which the hierarchy is completely unmarked), and feels obliged to work from the hypothesis that the 'basic grammatical relations' manifest in the child's initial structures "are part of the innate linguistic capacity" (1966: 45) .2  He further represents them as "substantive universals", part of the 'Language Acquisition Device' proposed by Chomsky and Katz as the mechanism innate in every human being for developing linguistic competence (see, for example, Chomsky 1965: 52-58).

McNeill: discussion & criticism
It is worth noting that these 'basic grammatical relations', allocated by Chomskyan transformational theory to the level of 'deep structure' (or semantic interpretation -- cf. Chomsky 1965: 136), are still derived from surface structure and continue to owe their existence as relations to the external structure of human language.  They are linguistic, and not psychological concepts.  (What could be the meaning of main verb, for example, outside the context of actual language?)  Yet the implication of McNeill's theory is that children begin constructing utterances from these innate 'basic grammatical relations', with meaning somehow being plugged into them along the way.
   Frank Smith's recently published study on the reading process (1971) includes some useful insights on the nature of language development in children.  The following paragaph gives an interesting contrast to the order of learning implied by McNeill (Smith 1971: 52): "Contrary to popular ... belief, the child is not learning words and then finding meanings for them.  Instead he is acquiring or inventing words ... to meet his own particular requirements and represent meanings which he needs to express." 3  Would not this relative order of learning extend to all aspects of surface structure, including the 'basic grammatical relations'?
   Charles Fillmore apparently thinks so.  In his discussion and rejection of "earlier approaches to the study of [grammatical] case" he criticises Redden's analysis of Walapai on the grounds that the meaning or 'functions' of cases "are not taken as primary terms in the description" but merely fitted into the framework of already identified surface-structure forms (Fillmore 1968: 9).  He further finds "reasons for questioning the deep-structure validity of the traditional division between subject and predicate, a division which is assumed by some to underlie the basic form of all sentences in all languages" (1968: 17). 4
    Another attack on the use of surface structure as a starting-point for probing the language-thought relationship has come from psychologist Norman Segalowitz, who argues as follows (1970: 14):

The error which I think linguists have made is this.  They have focussed on the wrong property of language to base their theory on.  So far, the main concern of linguistics has been to show how sentences are related to each other through their internal structures.  The structures which emerged in these theories are always subordinated to the task of relating one type of surface structure to another.  The psychologist on the other hand is interested not so much how surface structures are related ... but in the very nature of the internal structure itself.

It is our view that any serious consideration of the acquisition of language in the young child, inasmuch as it parallels the development of the child's thinking processes, cannot afford to neglect the nature of this 'internal structure' -- the thought component in the language-thought relationship.  And yet the answer cannot lie entirely in the realm of psychology either, for the language component is equally important.  What is needed is a theory of linguistic development that will take fuller account of the link between the two.

Some other ideas on language structure
We believe that the basis of such a theory is to be found in Fillmore's own approach to transformational grammar, as set forth in his 1968 article "The case for case".  While it is true that his study deals largely with what has been termed "case grammar" and is applied primarily to adult language, the fact that his whole treatment of grammatical theory (and case in particular 5) is rooted in his concept of a fundamental relationship between language and thought -- an "underlying syntactic-semantic relationship" as he puts it (21) -- makes his model a most interesting source of enlightenment on the subject of child-language acquisition.
   On the language side, Fillmore sees basic sentence structure as consisting "of a verb and one or more noun phrases, each associated with the verb in a particular case relationship"; the sum of these constitutes the proposition of the sentence as distinct from the modality (features affecting the sentence as a whole -- negation, tense etc.).  These 'case categories', however, in contrast to the Walapai study mentioned above, are not treated as the primary units of analysis but are related to a 'conceptual framework' of relationship categories which are presumably non-linguistic in origin and form part of one's innate cognitive structure.6  As examples of these categories he lists Agentive, Instrumental, Dative, Factitive, Locative and Objective -- the latter "not to be confused with the notion of direct object, nor with the name of the surface case synonymous with accusative" (1968: 25).
   Fillmore then proceeds to classify sentences according to which of these conceptual categories they express, illustrating his classification with a 'case frame': e.g., the verb run could take the frame [___A], give [___ O + D + A] etc. (initial letters refer to the case categories given above).  Another point of departure from Chomskyan theory is that adjectives are treated as verbs, e.g., sad [___ D].
   While all case categories (including the Agentive) are given following the verb, Fillmore has stated that no linear ordering of deep structure is implied.  In surface structure, however, one of the categories is 'subjectivalised' and moved to the beginning of the sentence.  For example, the sentence John opened the door has as its underlying proposition the structure V + O + A, with A becoming the subject in surface structure.  The proposition underlying The door opened, on the other hand, is V + O, and O becomes the subject.  This supports Fillmore's basic assumption that the notion of 'subject' and other components of syntactic relations are aspects of surface structure, not deep structure (see p. 17).

Agentive, adj. Of or relating to a linguistic form or construction that indicates an agent or agency, as the suffix -er in singer. n. An agentive form or construction -- http://www.thefreedictionary.com/agentive 080223

Fillmore: discussion & criticism
It is interesting to note that Segalowitz also sees in Fillmore's grammar the possibility of a closer union between linguistics and psychology in regard to the understanding of the language-thought relationship.  His criticism of Fillmore's approach is that, radical though it is in using "explicitly psychological aspects of language", it doesn't go far enough -- it is "still subordinated to the task of relating surface structures to each other (Segalowitz 1970: 15).
   Indeed, Fillmore devotes comparatively little attention to the non-linguistic analysis of his case categories, concentrating rather on their relationship to surface structure.  Even the definitions of these categories are all predicated on something called the verb, which for some reason is left undefined in terms of cognitive structure.  The definitions, moreover, leave something to be desired in terms of their relationship to the overall cognitive structure.  One category that appears to be missing entirely is that expressed in the initial component of 'copula' sentences (John is a teacher, That is my brother) -- a category that might possibly be termed, for want of a better expression, the Referential.  Another discrepancy is that determiners are introduced into the deep-structure phrase markers without any statement as to their origin or semantic correspondence.  All of which means in effect that Fillmore's theory as stated is not fully satisfactory as a model for language acquisition.
   Segalowitz (ibid.) focuses on the concept of action-object relationship inherent in Fillmore's grammar as a "specific property of language" that could be significant to the relation of language to thought.  In the matter of action-object relationships, an interesting comparison may be found in a discussion of primordial development of thought and language in the human species by the Russian psychologist-anthropologist A. A. Leont'ev (1963).  In Leont'ev's view, the very first step in the development of thought beyond the level of the pre-human ape was the "separation of action from object" [otdelenie dejstvija ot ob"ekta] (1963: 50).  We might also speak of the separation of the object from the situation.  Another major step in this development described by Leont'ev was the subsequent separation of a generalised concept of an object from its individual manifestation (1963: 119-21).  We believe that these two primary mental processes Leont'ev proposes may contribute toward an alternative theory to McNeill's regarding language acquisition in the young child.

Toward an alternative theory of language acquisition
Let us look for a moment at McNeill's analysis of the two-word utterances which he divides into pivot- and open-class components (1966: 22).  Braine's study is especially interesting, since his list, unlike the other two, reportedly represents the very first two-word combinations ever produced by his subjects.
   We may first of all note that the second component of each utterance (ascribed by Braine and McNeill to the 'open' class) is a noun denoting some object, 8 while first-component 'pivot'-class words, none of them nouns, comprise adjectives, verbs and other expressions relating to the following noun: big, pretty, more, my, see, allgone, byebye, nightnight, hi.  Remembering Fillmore's treatment of adjectival expressions as verbs, we might classify these initial constructions as V + O -- i.e., a verb followed by a noun in the Objective case category.
   The only difficulty in this manner of approach is that we are still talking about language-bound concepts.  Fillmore's Objective category, it will be recalled, was predicated on the 'verb', and just what this 'verb' might mean to an adult, let alone a child, is as yet unexplained.  We still need something to tie in Fillmore's categories more closely with the child's basic cognitive structure.
   Let us look at Braine's list in a different way.  We have said that all the second-component words denote objects, whereas none of the first-component words do.  The latter, however, all may be considered to have a strong semantic correspondence with situations relating to the objects denoted by the second component -- situations which, like the objects, form part of the child's non-linguistic cognitive experience -- e.g., disappearance of an object (allgone, byebye), its physical features (pretty, big), a desire for an object (more) etc.  Seen in this light, do not these first combinations point to what might be a prior or simultaneous first step in the development of the child's thinking processes, a first step not unlike the one proposed by Leont'ev for the original evolution of human thought?  Do not utterances like allgone shoe, big boat, more milk etc. express the first mental separation of an object from the situation in which the object appears? 9  Therefore, instead of introducing language-bound, psychologically meaningless classifications such as 'pivot' and 'open' classes -- or even psychologically vague ones such as 'verb' and an 'Objective' predicated on the verb, could we not rather formulate the child's first grammatical rule in terms of the cognitive dichotomy of object and situation, possibly: Utt > (Sit) + Obj ? 10
   Looking at the list compiled from Brown's study (McNeill 1966: 22), however, we find a couple of items which do not appear to have any semantic correspondence at all, let alone a correspondence to a 'situation' -- namely, the articles a and the.  How are these to be accounted for in terms of our postulated rule?
   The answer appears to lie in the fact that the children in Brown's study were somewhat older (in terms of linguistic development) than those examined by Braine; it is reported (1966: 20), in fact, that they were already producing three- and four-word utterances even before the study began.  If Brown & Fraser's study (1964: 63) may serve as an analogy, these children were probably producing utterances such as See a boot, There the man, in which the above-formulated rule could very well have given see, there, as situations and a boot, the man, as objects.  The latter expression could have been obtained alone simply through the non-inclusion of the optional situation component (as provided for in the rule); they almost certainly represent a very different grammatical structure.  Such is the danger of treating all two-word utterances alike at a time when their utterers have progressed beyond the two-word stage and must of necessity have expanded their hierarchy of rules.
   How then might their hierarchy have been expanded to account for constructions with a or the as first component?  They appear to be very similar to the determiner-plus-noun constructions of adult grammar, which Fillmore introduces as a sub-classification of his case categories, but even he is unable to provide any psychological correspondence for them; they simply appear in his deep-structure phrase-markers without explanation.
   Again we turn to Leont'ev's analysis of thought-development in the human species.  It will be recalled that a second major development was cited -- that of separation of a generalised concept of an object from its individual manifestation.  Now, could not the articles, both definite and indefinite, be taken to mark (at least at this stage of the child's linguistic development) recognition of an individual manifestation of a particular object in contrast to the generalised concept of it?  This distinction might give rise to the following rule: Obj > (Ind) + Obj -- where Ind would signify individualisation).
   The fact that Ervin's list includes adjectives and verbs as second components of two-word utterances suggests (a) that her subjects were even more linguistically advanced than those studied by Brown, and (b) that more information about their longer utterances is needed before an attempt is made at analysis on the basis of the rules given above.

Further implications
The two grammatical rules we have now formulated on the basis of presumed mental processes have, in our view, definite implications for the subsequent development of language acquisition all the way into adult speech.  We can already foresee specific expansions of the rule hierarchy to account for the three-word utterances analysed by McNeill (1966: 40ff), as well as for those studied by Brown & Fraser (1964: 62ff).  We believe we are also capable at this point of explaining the initial negations and questions dicussed by McNeill (54ff).
   As to a model for still later linguistic development, we are not absolutely convinced as to the greater validity of Fillmore's grammar over Chomsky's, although at this point it has the advantage of being an attempted closer approximation to the non-linguistic cognitive structure in which human language is rooted.11  We certainly do not see the involvement, however, of anything like a 'Language Acquisition Device' containing innate 'basic grammatical relations'.  Rather, we see the above-formulated rules as pointing the way toward a more mentally-oriented theory of grammatical structure which might supply the missing psychological relationship for either Chomsky's or Fillmore's grammar, or suggest the development of an entirely new grammatical system.
   For example, we might explore the relationship of the concept of situation suggested by Leont'ev's study to Fillmore's 'verb' (or even some of his case categories), or alternatively to Chomsky's notion of 'predicate'.  Does Leont'ev's 'object' develop into Fillmore's 'Objective' or any of his other categories, or is it the forerunner of Chomsky's 'NP'?  Could it be that the process of individualisation mentioned above underlies the whole concept of determiner in linguistic structure?  The exact nature of these relationships is beyond the scope of the present paper but is definitely recommended for future explanation.

The major thrust of our present paper, as we see it, has been to examine what we might call the whole 'surface-structure approach' to language acquisition, as seen in the McNeill presentation discussed above.  Specifically, we have questioned these two basic assumptions: (1) the validity of the 'pivot-open' classification of children's first two-word utterances; (2) the existence of a 'Language Acquisition Device' separate from the rest of one's cognitive structure and the correlative hypothesis that 'basic grammatical relations' are to be treated as innate universals.
   Two points have been made in regard to the first assumption: (a) the classification has been erroneously applied to utterances of children who have already progressed beyond two-word utterances and beyond a single grammatical rule; (b) the classification is meaningless as a description of the real 'deep structure' -- the mental processes -- underlying these initial two-word utterances.  Instead, an alternative formulation has been proposed which attempts to take account of this internal structure.
   In regard to the second assumption, it has been shown that no separate device is necessary.  Language acquisiton can be handled by the same processes that govern the non-linguistic aspects of cognitive structure, and the same rules can, at least in the initial stages of acquisition, account for the development of both thought and language.
© John Woodsworth, 1972.

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Maximilian Berlitz (1852-1921)

From: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilien_Berlitz 080220

Maximilian Delphinius Berlitz (1852-1921) was the founder of the Berlitz Language Schools in 1878, in Providence, Rhode Island.

He was born an orphan with his sister in Württemberg, Germany in 1852 and grew up in a family of educators in the Black Forest. He later moved to France and then to the United States.

Berlitz started as a teacher at Warner Polytechnic College as a teacher of French and German and took over the school when the owner of the school, Mr Warner, disappeared with all the prepaid tuition money.

When Berlitz became ill, and was unable to teach a French class, he quickly hired Nicholas Joly to replace him and take over the class. Since he had always corresponded with Joly in French, he did not realize that Joly did not speak any English until after he had hired him. Joly taught the class entirely in French (with no translations) by using gestures, pointing to objects and using tone of voice and facial expressions to convey meaning. Berlitz returned to the class six weeks later to find that his students, who had spoken little to no French before Joly began teaching, were conversing semi-fluently in French. Their pronunciation and grammar were also very good. Berlitz used this experience to develop the Berlitz Method, in which only the target language is spoken from the first day of class. Students rely on the same techniques Joly used, rather than translation, to gather meaning and learn grammar and vocabulary.

The linguist and author Charles Berlitz was his grandson.

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Noam Chomsky (1928 - )

From:  www.xrefer.com

 American linguist and philosopher whose pioneering work on language, Syntactic Structures (1957), and devasting  'Review of B.F. Skinner's Verbal Behaviour' (in Language (1959)) led to the cognitive revolution, and the demise of behaviourism, in psychology.
     Languages are largely identified by their structure, so, for Chomsky, linguistics is the study of the structure of human languages. He also argues that the theory of language is the theory of a speaker's knowledge of language -- knowledge represented in the mind of the individual. So linguistic theory becomes the study of those linguistic structures represented in the minds of speakers which constitute their knowledge of language. Thus linguistics is a branch of cognitive psychology which studies the mental structures responsible for linguistic competence. Linguistic competence is just one of the interacting components which contribute to the production of linguistic behaviour, so the latter can provide only a rough guide to the speaker's linguistic knowledge. A theory of competence aims to factor it out from the performance data of language use by eliciting judgements from speakers about which strings of words belong to their language (i.e. which strings they find grammatical), then constructing a grammar that generates all and only those grammatical strings.
     Chomsky uses the term 'grammar' to mean both the theory formulated by the linguist and an internal component of the speaker-hearer's mind. This is legitimate so long as the grammar provides a model of the speaker-hearer's competence: a finite means for generating the potential infinity of linguistic forms a speaker-hearer can produce or recognize. Part of the task in explaining what the speaker knows is to account for this creativity: that by the age of 4 most children can produce and recognize a huge range of sentences they have never heard before, by rearranging familiar words into new but legitimate configurations. The best available hypothesis is that they have mastered a system of grammatical knowledge which it is the task of the linguist to describe. Because the grammatical rules or principles are not consciously known and cannot be explicitly stated by the speaker-hearer, Chomsky infers that they must be unconsciously, or tacitly, known. This mentalist hypothesis serves to explain why speaker-hearers conform to complex generalizations that go beyond what could be picked up from the available linguistic evidence.
     The philosopher Quine has criticized Chomsky's position claiming that all we have to go on is behavioural dispositions of speakers, and that these do not discriminate between different descriptively adequate grammars speakers could be using to assign structure to sentences they recognize as belonging to their language. But although the evidence is behavioural, the theoretical constructs posited to explain it do not have to be. By postulating the grammars that underlie linguistic behaviour, Chomsky can formulate generalizations which explain speakers' linguistic judgements and use, including the gaps we find in the data.
     Another task is to explain how children with such different cultural backgrounds, intelligence, and experience learn, without explicit training, and at much the same age, to speak their native language. How do speakers acquire knowledge of language? In Chomsky's view, a large part of this knowledge is innate, a matter of a biological endowment specific to humans. Speakers move from an initial state of the language faculty, which they share, to an attained state, which they develop on exposure to the primary linguistic data. The initial state is characterized by the principles of universal grammar: a finite set of interactive principles which allow for parametric variation within a certain range. The variety of human languages is explained by the different vocabularies and parameter settings of the universal principles which characterize the attained states of the language faculty in different speakers. Chomsky distinguishes E-language -- the common notion of languages like Dutch, English, German  -- which is hopelessly vague, and I-language -- the internal language of an individual speaker-hearer -- which is the proper object of scientific study.
     In addition to his work in linguistics, Chomsky has been an active critic on the left of the political spectrum and has published far-reaching criticisms of US domestic and foreign policy.

N. Chomsky, Deterring Democracy (London, 1992).
N. Chomsky, Knowledge of Language: Its Nature, Origin and Use (New York, 1986).
A. George (ed.), Reflections on Chomsky (Oxford, 1989).
W. V. Quine, 'Methodological Reflections on Current Linguistic Theory', in D. Davidson and G. Harman (eds.), Semantics of Natural Language (Dordrecht, 1972).
The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, © Oxford University Press 1995

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operant conditioning

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning 080221

Operant conditioning is the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior. Operant conditioning is distinguished from classical conditioning (also called respondent conditioning, or Pavlovian conditioning) in that operant conditioning deals with the modification of "voluntary behavior" or operant behavior. Operant behavior "operates" on the environment and is maintained by its consequences, while classical conditioning deals with the conditioning of respondent behaviors which are elicited by antecedent conditions. Behaviors conditioned via a classical conditioning procedure are not maintained by consequences.[

Reinforcement, punishment, and extinction
Reinforcement and punishment, the core tools of operant conditioning, are either positive (delivered following a response), or negative (withdrawn following a response). This creates a total of four basic consequences, with the addition of a fifth procedure known as extinction (i.e. no change in consequences following a response).
   It's important to note that organisms are not spoken of as being reinforced, punished, or extinguished; it is the response that is reinforced, punished, or extinguished. Additionally, reinforcement, punishment, and extinction are not terms whose use are restricted to the laboratory. Naturally occurring consequences can also be said to reinforce, punish, or extinguish behavior and are not always delivered by people.
Reinforcement is a consequence that causes a behavior to occur with greater frequency.
Punishment is a consequence that causes a behavior to occur with less frequency.
Extinction is the lack of any consequence following a response. When a response is inconsequential, producing neither favorable nor unfavorable consequences, it will occur with less frequency.

Four contexts of operant conditioning:
Here the terms "positive" and "negative" are not used in their popular sense, but rather: "positive" refers to addition, and "negative" refers to subtraction. What is added or subtracted may be either reinforcement or punishment. Hence positive punishment is sometimes a confusing term, as it denotes the addition of punishment (such as spanking or an electric shock), a context that may seem very negative in the lay sense. The four procedures are:
1. Positive reinforcement occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by a favorable stimulus (commonly seen as pleasant) that increases the frequency of that behavior. In the Skinner box experiment, a stimulus such as food or sugar solution can be delivered when the rat engages in a target behavior, such as pressing a lever.
2. Negative reinforcement occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by the removal of an aversive stimulus (commonly seen as unpleasant) thereby increasing that behavior's frequency. In the Skinner box experiment, negative reinforcement can be a loud noise continuously sounding inside the rat's cage until it engages in the target behavior, such as pressing a lever, upon which the loud noise is removed.
3. Positive punishment (also called "Punishment by contingent stimulation") occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by an aversive stimulus, such as introducing a shock or loud noise, resulting in a decrease in that behavior.
4. Negative punishment (also called "Punishment by contingent withdrawal") occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by the removal of a favorable stimulus, such as taking away a child's toy following an undesired behavior, resulting in a decrease in that behavior.

• Avoidance learning is a type of learning in which a certain behavior results in the cessation of an aversive stimulus. For example, performing the behavior of shielding one's eyes when in the sunlight (or going indoors) will help avoid the punishment of having light in one's eyes.
• Extinction occurs when a behavior (response) that had previously been reinforced is no longer effective. In the Skinner box experiment, this is the rat pushing the lever and being rewarded with a food pellet several times, and then pushing the lever again and never receiving a food pellet again. Eventually the rat would cease pushing the lever.
• Noncontingent reinforcement refers to response-independent delivery of stimuli identified serve as reinforcers for some behaviors of that organism. However, this typically entails time-based delivery of stimuli identified as maintaining aberrant behavior, which serves to decrease the rate of the target behavior. As no measured behavior is identified as being strengthened, there is controversy surrounding the use of the term noncontingent "reinforcement".

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Pivot Grammar


I've reformatted the table as:

Pivot word     Open word
      My             cap
      That           horsie
      All gone       milk
      Mommy         sock

"Sentence"  —>  Pivot word + Open word  would generate:

   My cap        My horsie       My milk       My sock
   That cap      That horsie     That milk     That sock
   All gone cap  All gone horsie All gone milk All gone sock
   Mommy cap     Mommy horsie    Mommy milk    Mommy sock

   My Mommy      That Mommy      All gone Mommy

On the following is from Braine, M.D.S. The ontogeny of English phrase structure, the first phrase. Language 39, 1-13, 1963, cited in A.McEnery and P.Baker Language Acquisition, www.ling.lancs.ac.uk/monkey/ihe/lingusitics

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Pop Go Weasel

by UKT based on:
• 1. Terry Kluytmans, http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/p009.html 080218
• Pop goes the Weasel, Rhyme Lyrics, Origins and History,
http://www.rhymes.org.uk/a116a-pop-goes-the-weasel.htm 080218

Brown is referring to the fact that children live in a world of their own similar to the 17th to 19th century Cockneys of England. Probably, 'Pop go weasel' originated as a secret language used by the Cockneys to protect themselves from the police whom they hated even to this day.

From source 1: 
There are many versions of this rhyme. I have visited this site a couple of times since about 2003, and version (6) was from the first visit.

'Round and 'round the cobbler's bench
The monkey chased the weasel,
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun
Pop! Goes the weasel. (1)
A penny for a spool of thread
A penny for a needle,
That's the way the money goes,
Pop! Goes the weasel. (3)
A half a pound of tupenny rice,
A half a pound of treacle.
Mix it up and make it nice,
Pop! Goes the weasel. (5)
Up and down the London road,
In and out of the Eagle,
That's the way the money goes,
Pop! Goes the weasel. (2)
I've no time to plead and pine,
I've no time to wheedle,
Kiss me quick and then I'm gone
Pop! Goes the weasel. (4)
Johnny's got the whooping cough and
Mary's got the measles
That's the way the money goes
Pop -- goes the weasel! (6)


From source 2:
The nursery rhyme, 'Pop goes the weasel' sounds quite incomprehensible in day an age! The origins of the rhyme are believed to date back to the 1700's.

Pop and Weasel?
These words are derived from Cockney Rhyming slang which originated in London. Cockneys were a close community and had a suspicion of strangers and a dislike of the Police (they still do!). Cockneys developed a language of their own based roughly on a rhyming slang -- it was difficult for strangers to understand as invariably the second noun would always be dropped. Apples and Pears (meaning stairs) would be abbreviated to just 'apples', for instance, "watch your step on the apples". To "Pop" is the slang for "Pawn". Weasel is derived from "weasel and stoat" meaning coat. It was traditional for even poor people to own a suit, which they wore as their 'Sunday Best'. When times were hard they would pawn their suit, or coat, on a Monday and claim it back before Sunday. Hence the term "Pop goes the Weasel".

In and out the Eagle?
The words to the Rhyme are "Up and down the City road, in and out the Eagle - That's the way the money goes - Pop! goes the weasel". The Eagle refers to the 'Eagle Tavern' a pub which is located on the corner of City Road and Shepherdess Walk in Hackney, North London. The Eagle was an old pub which was rebuilt as a music hall in 1825. Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was known to frequent the Music Hall. It was purchased by the Salvation Army in 1883 (they were totally opposed to drinking and Music Halls). The hall was later demolished and was rebuilt as a public house in 1901.

"A penny for a spool of thread, a penny for a needle" -- this version has led to a 'weasel' being interpreted as a shuttle or bobbin, as used by silk weavers. The 'weasel' is also interpreted as a type of iron used by tailors.  These were the tools of trade being pawned in a similar way as the suits or jackets owned by the Cockneys. A 'monkey' is Cockney rhyming slang for £500.

A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle.
That's the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.
Up and down the City road,
In and out the Eagle,
That's the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.
Round and round the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey stopped to pull up his socks
And Pop goes the weasel. (3)
Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
That's the way the money goes,
Pop goes the weasel.
Every night when I go out
The monkey's on the table,
Take a stick and knock it off
Pop goes the weasel. (2)
I've no time to plead and pine
I've no time to wheedle
Kiss me quick, and then I'm gone
Pop! Goes the weasel. (4)

UKT: Secret languages known as {sa.ka: lain} are quite common in Myanmar especially in the central part known as {a.Ña}. They were developed to be used within a community, and messages are passed on between its members unknown to strangers. Even an unliterate of such a community, usually poor and being socially-persecuted, by knowing the code of the {sa.ka: lain} could protect him- or herself by being warned of the impending danger by its use. Dr. Htin Aung, writing about the Burmese alchemists {ag~gi.rût þa.ma:} and Traditional Medical practistioners {baim~dau: hsa.ra}:

From: Maung Htin Aung, Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism, Religious Affairs Dept. Press, Rangoon, 1981, p48-49

"The Burmese physician and craftsman are often accused of being very selfish persons who consider their knowledge and their experience to be 'trade secrets' and who therefore will not communicate their discoveries to others. The Burmese alchemist is also accused of the same fault. But the accusation is unfair. As in the case of the medieval European Trade Guilds, the Burmese physician, the Burmese alchemist and the Burmese craftsman will keep their 'art' secret from outsiders, but they will freely circulate their 'secrets' within their own professions.

"With regard to the Burmese alchemist, there is a considerable body of literature on the subject of alchemy, but these writings are in code. Alchemists were never persecuted, as were the Ari monks {a.ræÑ: kri:}, but the practice of alchemy was frowned upon by the new Buddhism of Anawrahta, and the alchemist became a social outcast. Therefore, after the eleventh century, the Burmese alchemists conducted their experiments in secret, but they communicated with each other regarding their experiments and discoveries. Many secret formulae were passed from hand to hand. Unfortunately, the alchemists could not organize themselves into a nation-wide group, and instead grouped themselves into different schools. Each school wrote down its discoveries in its own code. The code was a simple one, and the metals and metal compounds were given nicknames or secret names such as 'the lion', 'the tiger', 'the wife with many children', 'the wife with no children', 'the wife with many husbands', 'the mouse', 'the white cat'. The nicknames were used by all schools but applied to different metals. Thus, whereas one school would refer to gold as 'the big eagle', another would refer to it as 'the lion'. Therefore, by the fifteenth or sixteenth century, much of the energy of the Burmese alchemist was wasted in attempting to decipher the secret alchemic formulae."

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Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (SWH)

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapir-Whorf_hypothesis

In linguistics, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis (SWH) states that there is a systematic relationship between the grammatical categories of the language a person speaks and how that person both understands the world and behaves in it. Although it has come to be known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, it rather was an axiom underlying the work of linguist and anthropologist Edward Sapir and his colleague and student Benjamin Whorf. (UKT: Whorf was a chemical engineer by training.)

UKT: This is in accordance with the Buddhist search for Truth and Final Liberation: {a.swè:a:loän: mha. king:lwat hkying:}. Gautama Buddha, before he became a Buddha (not "god", but an "enlightened commoner" {ma.ha tha-ma.na.tha.}), struggled for six long years to find the "Truth", by following the doctrines of various faiths. Realizing the futility of the tenets of all these doctrines, he set them (such as the idea of a Creator or God) aside, and started to find an unfailing natural law. He discovered that "no sentient being is free from suffering" which became the First Noble Truth of Buddhism. Starting from that universal law, he arrived at three more, and then at the Principle of Anatta (or the futility of finding a permanent unchanging entity commonly known as Atta.). He then realized that he had become a Buddha -- {zi.na.}. Any sane and logical human being can be liberated from "Suffering" if she or he could be free from all "ideas" which could not be proven -- {a.swè:a:loän: mha. king:lwat hkying:}. However, all those who has achieved that goal following the teachings of the Buddha are known as Arahant {ra.han~ta} -- not {zi.na.}.

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tabula rasa

UKT: 'tabula rasa' is an idiom literally meaning is 'clean slate'. It refers to the day when 'slates' were used for writing

tabula rasa n. pl. tabulae rasae 1. a. The mind before it receives the impressions gained from experience. b. The unformed, featureless mind in the philosophy of John Locke. 2. A need or an opportunity to start from the beginning. [Medieval Latin tabula rāsa Latin tabula tablet Latin rāsa, feminine of rāsuserased] -- AHTD

a clean slate
If you are given a clean slate, you can start something again, and all of the problems caused by you or other people in the past will be forgotten.
   The company's debts have been paid so that the new manager can start with a clean slate. -- http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/clean+slate 080221

wipe the slate clean
To make it possible to start something again, without any of the mistakes or problems of the past.
   The time he spent in prison should have wiped the slate clean.
-- http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/slate 080221

{þing-poan: hkyé} - v. 1. prepare a wooden tablet for writing by cleaning and coating with a mixture of {hta.ming:ræÑ} and soot. 2. figurative  remit all debts; forgive mistakes; make a clean slate (fig.) -- MEDict509
UKT note: MEDict uses the word "congee" which is not well known in the West. The closest term they would know is a coined word "cream of rice" or thin rice gruel. The actual ingredient I had used as a child was {hta.ming:ré}, the water decanted half-way during preparing 'boiled rice' (what we eat every day in place of bread. -- 080221

UKT: When I was attending a monastic school as a child, wooden slates were in use only in very remote areas. Talc pencils were used to write on these plates. What I had used was a shale slate known as {kyauk-thing-poan:} on which we wrote with shale-slate pencils.

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From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telegraphese 080221
UKT: In today's time of e-mail, no one would know what an electric telegraph is, and so the term 'telegaphese' would look strange. This was not the case during the prime of my life. -- 080221.

Telegraphese is a linguistic term for an elliptical style of writing, such as that used to write newspaper headlines or article titles. Related but distinct, is the historical practice of using abbreviations and code words to compress the meaning of phrases into a small set of characters for ease of transmission over a telegraph, a device for transmitting electrical impulses used for communications, introduced from 1839 onwards. A related term, "cablese", described the style of press messages sent uncoded, but highly condensed, in a Hemingway-style of writing, over submarine cables.

Telegraphic coded expressions
Though the history of telegraphy, very many dictionaries of telegraphese, codes or ciphers were developed, each serving to minimise the number of characters which needed to be transmitted in order to impart a message; the drivers for this economy were, for telegraph operators, the resource cost and limited bandwidth of the system; and for the consumer, the cost of sending messages.

Examples of telegraphic coded expressions, taken from The Adams Cable Codex, Tenth Edition, 1896 are:
• Emolument - Think you had better not wait
• Emotion - Think you had better wait until -
• Emotional - Think you had better wait and sail -
• Empaled - Think well of party mentioned
• Empanel - This is a matter of great importance.

and from The A.B.C. Universal Commercial Electric Telegraphic Code
• Nalezing - Do only what is absolutely necessary
• Nalime - Will only do what is absolutely necessary
• Nallary - It is not absolutely necessary, but it would be an advantage
• Naloopen - It is not absolutely necessary, but well worth the outlay

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Theories of language acquisition

Mario Vaneechoutte and John R. Skoyles, 1998; The memetic origin of language: modern humans as musical primates. Journal of Memetics -- Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
http://jom-emit.cfpm.org/1998/vol2/vaneechoutte_m&skoyles_jr.html © JoM-EMIT 1998
• Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_acquisition 080218

Language consists of four distinct skills, 1. listening, 2. speaking, 3. reading, and, 4. writing. Listening and speaking (audiolingual skills) are acquired differently from reading and writing (graphic linguistic skills). Most of the theories are concerned with acquisition of audiolingual skills. However, none has suggested the memetic origin of language and that the acquisition of audiolingual skills may be based upon the ability of the humans to sing -- an ability not shared by any of the large apes.

From Wikipedia

Language acquisition is the process by which the language capability develops in a human. L1 acquisition concerns the development of language in children, while second language acquisition focuses on language development in adults as well. Historically, theorists are often divided between emphasising either nature or nurture (see Nature versus nurture) as the most important explanatory factor for acquisition.

One hotly debated issue is whether the biological contribution includes language-specific capacities, often described as universal grammar. For fifty years, linguists Noam Chomsky and Eric Lenneberg (1921 - 1975) argued for the hypothesis that children have innate, language-specific abilities that facilitate and constrain language learning.

Other researchers, including Elizabeth Bates, Catherine Snow, and Michael Tomasello, have hypothesized that language learning results only from general cognitive abilities and the interaction between learners and their surrounding communities. Recent work by William O'Grady proposes that complex syntactic phenomena result from an efficiency-driven, linear computational system. O'Grady describes his work as "nativism without Universal Grammar." One of the most important advances in the study of language acquisition was the creation of the CHILDES database by Brian MacWhinney and Catherine Snow.

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scientific method

UKT: My comment

Whenever I heard the term "scientific method" used by non-physical scientists I'm a little concerned. I've a feeling that some in the non-scientific community tend to use this word to give credence to what they are saying without really knowing what the scientific method is. What follows is from: Yogesh Malhotra (1994). On Science, Scientific Method And Evolution Of Scientific Thought: A Philosophy Of Science Perspective Of Quasi-Experimentation http://www.brint.com/papers/science.htm
     "The word science has its origins in the Latin verb scire, meaning "to know." Although, one can "know" through tenacity, authority, faith, intuition, or science, the method of science [or the "scientific method"] is distinct in its notion of intersubjective certification. In other words, it should be possible for other investigators to ascertain the truth content of scientific explanation(s). "Scientific knowledge thus rests on the bedrock of empirical testability" (Hunt, 1991: p. 197). Empirical replication depends on a comparison of "objective" observations of different researchers studying the phenomenon."

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Voici la table.

by UKT

This French sentence is probably one of the first sentences that would be taught to an English speaker learning French. It literally means 'Here the table." Note there is no "is" or "was". If you are to "read aloud" as you would read an English sentence, no French-speaking person would understand you. In French it sounds like {wa-si la taabl}.

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Werner Leopold

From Early Language Development in Full-Term and Premature Infants by P. Menyuk, J.W. Liebergott, and M.C. Schultz (1995). ISBN 0-8058-1773-5. www.writing.berkeley.edu/TESL-EJ

     Elementary ESL teachers can gain insights into how their students acquire their second language by looking at research into how children acquire their L1, because the process of second language acquisition in young children is very similar to that of L1 acquisition. There is a great deal of information available about L1 acquisition, ranging from Leopold's (1939, 1947, 1949a, 1949b) monumental four-volume description of his daughter's bilingual language acquisition to basic textbooks (Menyuk, 1988; Ingram, 1989; Bloom, 1994, Owens, 1996) and recent "state-of-the-art" reviews (Perera, 1994). In spite of all the information available, many areas of controversy remain. One of them concerns the relative influence of nature vs. nurture in L1 acquisition. Although the results of the study reported in Early Language Development in Full-Term and Premature Infants will not resolve the theoretical arguments between nativists and social interactionists, they do provide a solid contribution to our knowledge of how biological, cognitive and input factors affect L1 development.
• Leopold, W. (1939). Speech development of a bilingual child: A linguist's record. Vol I. Vocabulary growth in the first two years. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. [-3-]
• Leopold, W. (1947). Speech development of a bilingual child: A linguist's record. Vol II. Sound learning in the first two years. Evanston, IL : Northwestern University Press.
• Leopold, W. (1949a). Speech development of a bilingual child: A linguist's record. Vol III. Grammar and general problems. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
• Leopold, W. (1949b). Speech development of a bilingual child: A linguist's record. Vol IV. Diary from age two. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

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End of TIL file