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The development of language in the child

The development of language in the child

The development of language assumes great importance, especially in the clinical context, for the diagnosis of language disorder in infant development, as well as for the application of therapeutic practices on these.

 

Advertising message The fetus after 35 weeks has an already well developed auditory system and responds to the mother’s voice, which is heard through the amniotic fluid (Querleu 1981). At 36-40 weeks the fetus reacts to the change in the physical characteristics of the sounds. This has been confirmed by some experiments on babies born prematurely at 35-40 weeks, which already discriminated against several syllables (Dehaene-Lambertz, 1998). It has been noted that already 2 days after birth the child, thanks to an innate predisposition, is able to perceive sounds and discriminate the maternal voice with respect to that of other people. In fact, the infant is known to prefer the mother’s voice over other voices (Mills, Meluish, 1974). A few days old, the newborn can distinguish human voices (language) from other sonic stimuli, showing a great preference for the human voice over other types of noises or silence (Sigh, Morgan, White, 2004). At 1-2 months he is able to abstraction from the variability of the speech of different speakers. At this point it has been seen how the whole gestation period is important for the development of the hearing ability, and later on the linguistics of the child.

From birth to the 4th month of life, the baby’s speech system is poorly developed and is very similar to that of other primates. Only after 4 months of life the phonatory apparatus changes: the larynx descends, lengthens and widens the oral cavity and other different types of changes occur organically: at 5 months the baby develops and acquires the ability to be able to produce the early vocal sounds, to modulate one’s vocalizations, manipulating the height and intensity.

Upon reaching the sixth month, the newborn is able to coordinate the phonatory movements and begins to produce sounds similar to those of speech; between the sixth and the eighth month the lallation begins, a production that consists in the continuous repetition of syllables; for example “mamama”, “bababab”. Lallation has no meaning, it is formed by a subset of sounds present in languages. The lallation is divided into: canonical and varied.

The first consists in repeating the same syllable, so as to present the consonant-vowel structure (eg “babababa”). In the varied lallation there is the variation between the different syllables (eg manamanaman “). These types of lallations can coexist (Oller, 1980; Vihman, 1993). From 8-10 months, lallation takes on the characteristics of the language to which the child will be exposed.

So, starting from 8 months, both the perception of sounds and the production begin to be influenced by the linguistic environment: in the child a repertoire of specific sound categories of the language is formed. The sensitivity of the sounds specializes in this period and the sounds have a distinctive value based on the language of exposure. So lallation allows the child to listen to himself while producing the sounds he hears in the language environment. Towards 12 months the production of words is a continuous process that begins with the word protopes, or invented words, which can be joined by the words connected to the context. Finally the real words appear which will be used in different contexts. In any case, the child will specialize in one type of language, thanks to continuous contact with the environment. By examining and taking as truthful the thesis proposed by Chomsky (1965), the major researchers and scholars of language development in the child have formulated a series of theories focused on the discovery of any rules that facilitate the early development of language. The child language studies conducted by Braine (1963), in the early mid-1960s in the United States, examined 3 children for a period of 4 months starting with the period in which they started using two-word verbal expressions; the analysis by the scholar concerns all verbal expressions that can be interpreted, except those that seem to be imitations of immediately preceding adult expressions. the major researchers and scholars of language development in children have formulated a series of theories focused on the discovery of any rules that facilitate early language development. The child language studies conducted by Braine (1963), in the early mid-1960s in the United States, examined 3 children for a period of 4 months starting with the period in which they started using two-word verbal expressions; the analysis by the scholar concerns all verbal expressions that can be interpreted, except those that seem to be imitations of immediately preceding adult expressions. the major researchers and scholars of language development in children have formulated a series of theories focused on the discovery of any rules that facilitate early language development. The child language studies conducted by Braine (1963) in the early mid-1960s in the United States examined 3 children for a period of 4 months starting with the period when they started using two-word verbal expressions; the analysis by the scholar concerns all verbal expressions that can be interpreted, except those that seem to be imitations of immediately preceding adult expressions. in the early mid-1960s in the United States, they examined 3 children for a period of 4 months starting with the period when they started using two-word verbal expressions; the analysis by the scholar concerns all verbal expressions that can be interpreted, except those that seem to be imitations of immediately preceding adult expressions. in the early mid-1960s in the United States, they examined 3 children for a period of 4 months starting with the period when they started using two-word verbal expressions; the analysis by the scholar concerns all verbal expressions that can be interpreted, except those that seem to be imitations of immediately preceding adult expressions.

Advertising message It seems that children group words into two classes: one consists of a small number of words that they remember frequently and always located in the initial position. Braine defines them as pivot words (P). The other class of words is much wider: they are remembered less often than pivot words and do not have a fixed position in two-word expressions, even if they are usually in second position. Braine defines them as open words (A). The most common two-word expression model analyzed by Braine consists of a pivot word followed by an open word, that is, P + A. However there are also expressions formed by an open word followed by a pin: these are not the same as those that occupy the initial position, but they belong to a smaller class being used often and have a fixed position, Braine calls them words P2, to distinguish them from the pivoting words that have an initial position (P1). Some of the other children’s expressions are made up of two open words and others are made up of a single open word. In any case, the words of the pivot class are never found alone. The position of the scholar Bloom is contrary to Braine’s position. Bloom (1970) defines her colleague’s research as insufficient, as it does not represent a comprehensive way of explaining the grammatical and syntactic knowledge that is formed in the child. They describe the syntactic structure of early language but ignore the centrality of meaning. From research conducted in the 70s by Bloom,

Bloom (1970) observed how children use three different meanings of the word “no”:

Bloom understands how these three forms of denial appear in the child through development. In the 1980s, research was carried out by the scholar Mc Shane (1980) on six children during their second year of life. From this research it has been found that in addition to learning the early meaning of denial, the child also attributes the word “no” to the comment on his failures in performing an action taken. Such research adds a new meaning to the word “no” that scholar Bloom had previously discovered. Interesting was the thesis proposed by Bever (1970) and his assumption regarding the ability of the three-year-old child to interpret the meaning of a sentence passively. Bever’s research on children’s understanding of active and passive sentences confirms the difficulty of interpreting passive sentences. However, infants 3 years and older are able to understand passive sentences in which one noun is clearly agent and the other object.

We have seen how language acquisition takes place in identical ways and times, regardless of the particularity of the language to which children are exposed and also the way in which this language is expressed. An important role in the child’s linguistic development is attributable to the type of environment in which the child is exposed, and to the more or less varied reception of the stimuli he receives from that environment, which can cause an advance or delay on linguistic development. Furthermore, he must be able to understand the arbitrary meaning of the words he has to discover, and once discovered, formulate sentences that have a meaning. Although it seems impossible, this process happens for each child.