AQA English Lang B Child Language Acquisition - could somebody mark/give me feedback?Watch
Text A is a transcriptof Ruby (3 years 4 months) with her Auntie Lou. Ruby has just arrived at heraunt’s house and they are in the kitchen. Thelma, Fergal and Simba are cats.Referring in detail tothe transcript and to relevant ideas from language study, analyse the languageused by children and their caregivers. (48 marks)
We can see immediately in the transcript that Ruby is at a more advanced stageof language acquisition, which is to be expected for her age. This is evidencedby her ability to correct her mother when she says ‘It’s not a jacket it’s acoat’. This sentence indicates that Ruby is not using under-extension orover-extension in order to identify items – according to language theorist JeanAitchison’s developmental processes she is showing signs of labelling (as sheis able to link a sound to an object), packaging (as she understands that coatcan be used to refer to different items within the same coat category) and networkbuilding (as she understands that there are relationships between words i.e thedifferences between a coat and a jacket). Her mother’s response, most notablyher emphasis on ‘coat, can been seen to support Skinner’s theory of imitation –Skinner stated that children acquire language through imitation of caregiversand that caregivers reinforce correct use of language by rewarding the child.The emphasis achieves this reward system and can also be seen as child directedspeech as the emphasis serves a purpose to communicate with Ruby whilst alsoencouraging her language development. As well, this short sentence can be seento support Bruner’s language acquisition support system which stated that beingin an environment conductive to language where caregivers reward and encouragelinguistic development is how children acquire language – this certainly seemsto be evident in the early sections of the transcript. Lenneburg has a criticalperiod hypothesis which states that if a child doesn’t receive sufficientlinguistic interaction by the age of 5 then their ability to acquire languagelater in life will be severely limited. This is supported by some rare cases ofextreme child abuse whereby the child hasn’t received this interaction and hasmatured to be linguistically disabled.
Later on in the transcript there is evidence of Cruttenden’s three stages ofinflection development. Ruby appears to be at stage 2, which normally occursbetween two to three years of age, and so she could be seen to be stalling inlinguistic development. Stage 2 is consistent use but frequent misapplications.Ruby says ‘bitted’ – this indicates that, while she can clearly use inflectionsthroughout the transcript e.g ‘moved’, Ruby struggles with irregular verbs.This suggests that she has previously learnt the individual words, i.e ‘moved’,rather than the grammatical rule and thus supports Skinner’s imitation theoryrather than Noam Chomsky’s language acquisition device theory whichantagonistically suggests that language acquisition is innate and that everyonehas a section in their brain (the LAD) to achieve it, in other words, the brainis predisposed to language. However, it is very unlikely that Ruby has imitatedthis word as adults would not make the grammatical error in the first place and so this could disprove Skinner’s theory.There is further evidence of Ruby being at stage 2 of Cruttenden’s theory laterin the transcript when Ruby says ‘glass and cups’, there is a clear absence ofthe correct plural inflection on ‘glasses’ thus indicating again that Ruby haslearnt individual rules rather than being able to apply the grammatical rulecorrectly. To get to stage 3 of Cruttenden’s theory, which theoretically sheshould already be at considering it is expected from 3 years onwards, Ruby mustconsistently apply inflections correctly even with irregular verbs.
There is evidence in this transcript for Mike Halliday’s theory that childrenhave seven types of language: instrumental, regulatory, interactional, personal(the four of which relate to the child and their place within their environment),heuristic, imaginative and representational. Ruby says ‘what’s up wiv Felma’ –this is heuristic speech as she is asking about her immediate environment. Rubyalso uses representational language to convey information (‘it’s not a jacket it’sa coat’), personal language to create a sense of personal identity (‘I’ll sit’)and imaginative language when she describes how her unborn sister could grow upto be an explorer. Such a wide range of linguistic uses suggests that Ruby hasreasonably advanced linguistic capabilities.
The earlier sentence also shows commonfeatures of phonological development. Ruby uses substitution and voicing toreplace the voiceless plosives ‘th’ at the end of ‘with’. This reduces tocomplexion of pronunciation and allows Ruby to say the word. Ruby also usessubstitution on the name ‘Thelma’, instead pronouncing it as ‘Felma’. Thiscould also be considered as assimilation as the phoneme at the end of ‘wiv’could be influencing the word-initial consonant in ‘Thelma’.
Later, Ruby evidences under-extension – which is using a word in a very restrictedmanner. Ruby says she wants to go to ‘the room’. She doesn’t specify the roomperhaps indicating that she doesn’t know the correct word to use, this is whenunder-extension/over-extension is used – when children do not know the correctword. It usually happens after 18 months old, obviously Ruby is considerablyolder than this. Ruby again uses under-extension when she says ‘a bed’ but iscorrected by her Auntie who utilises child-directed speech to encourage Ruby toexpand on her language and specify by asking ‘mummy’s moved her bed or your bed’.This again supports Bruner’s language acquisition and support system. It alsoappears to be supportive of Vygotsky’s theory of socio-cultural languagedevelopment as it evidences the zone of proximal development. Ruby requires oneof her caregivers, Lou, to encourage and aid her to produce the correct andrelevant response – Ruby can then apply this framework to similar socialsituations in the future. It could also be considered loosely supportive ofSkinner’s imitation theory and Ruby is theoretically copying the framework forfuture use.