Lexis and Semantics Discuss the following criteria for a word and choose the one you think is best: 1. As long as the adult understands it, it’s a word 2. A word has got to sound like the adult version 3. A word combines context and ‘correct’ phonology 4. A word is any repeated sound 5. A word has to be intentional A word is any sound or set of sounds that is used consistently to refer to some thing, action or quality. (Bee, 1997) This suggests that the first word doesn’t have to be recognisable as an adult word. It is more important that it functions as a word than that it sounds strictly like one. In pairs, discuss which of these examples you would count as a word, giving your reasons. 1. A baby says ‘da’ every time he hits his toy duck against the side of the bath 2. A baby says ‘dada’ one day when his father enters the room 3. On looking into a mirror an infant exclaims ‘baba!’ 4. On looking into a mirror, looking at a photograph album and various books an infant exclaims ‘baba!’ 5. You show a baby a picture of a gorilla in a book. She shouts ‘Argh!’ Jean Aitchison Another linguist, Jean Aitchison connects children’s lexical and semantic development. Number Stage Description 1 Labelling Linking words to the objects to which they refer, understanding that things can be labelled 2 Packaging Exploring the labels and to what they can apply. Over/underextension occurs in order to eventually understand the range of a word’s meaning 3 Networkbuilding Making connections between words, understanding similarities and opposites in meaning Once children expand their vocabulary they use network-building to sort the words. An aspect of this stage is an understanding of hyponymy, the links between lexical items that divides into hypernyms and hyponyms. Hyponomy: the hierarchal structure that exists between lexical items hypernym: a more general word that can have more specific words under it hyponym: a more specific word in a wider category If you take ‘clothes’ as the hypernym, you could list all the hyponyms a child could use for specific items of clothing they wear: socks, shoes, vest etc. When they have a larger vocabulary (18 months onwards) they may use these more accurately and precisely to identify individual items of clothing. Synonymy appears too, offering different ways to name the same object, e.g. ‘Duck’ and ‘quack-quack’. Overextension This example of over-extension demonstrates the child’s exploration of labels. As in this interaction, it has been found that parents are Child: moon more likely to use hyponyms to Adult: moon yes encourage children to networkbuildmoon and increase their Child: (points to the stars) moon more more vocbulary Adult: more Child: more moon Adult: (suddenly realises he is pointing at the stars in the picture) oh these are stars (.) these are little stars (.) stars in the sky Linking in theorists! Which theorists could we refer to when discussing the examples we’ve looked at today? Jean Piget emphasised that children are active learners who use their environment and social interactions to shape their language. Rachel’s use of the word ‘wassat’ shows that she wanted more labels to describe the objects around her. Piaget linked linguistic development with understanding, suggesting that children cannot be taught a word before they are ready and understand the meaning of the word. B. F Skinner believed that children develop language through imitation and positive or negative reinforcement. The types of first words we’ve looked at today seem to agree with this theory as many are words that are likely to have been used often and repeated by caregivers.