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Introduction, origins of language and word learning.

There are two main approaches to language acquisition: behaviourism and the generative/universal grammar theory. Whereas Skinner advocates for association making and induction, Chomsky claims that there is an universal grammar for every language that considers whether an utterance is correct or not, regardless of the particular language. However, cognitive linguistics integrates cognitive and social-cognitive skills. As far as origins of language are concerned, Tomasello asserts that human language differs from other languages of animals in the fact that human language presents an interconnected attention between the speaker and the listener. Although there is a punctual intention in other kinds of communication, human language aims for sharing that intention between the communicators. In fact, communication happens thanks to this sharing of intentions and the attention paid by communicators. Culture is, in the end, the frame which filters and transforms all these communicative intentions, and that is why context is of paramount importance to shape every act of communication. In short, Tomasello (2003) attempts to demonstrate how children learn a language through a set of skills: intention-reading joint attention to objects and gestures to grasp/express communicative intentions and define symbolic/functional elements of grammar through abstraction and analogy, pattern-finding, and categorization, by extracting form and isolating functional roles. Within the learning of words, Tomasello relates it to joint attentional frame and cultural learning activities, showing that, apart from form and sounds, words have a relevant symbolic part. Linguistics symbols are, according to Tomasello, social conventions to manipulate the attentional and mental states of others, even with gestures. Word learning starts happening when children have previously acquired these social-cognitive skills (joint attention/intention reading). Apart from these two, children conceptualise different words by segmenting the speech into units, which are their own, not adults ones. Finally, there are facilitative factors in word learning. Children first rely on adults utterances constructions and words, this is the only context they have. They have to understand adults overall communicative intention through analysis and distinction of the components of the utterance. Although grammar and vocabulary development are intertwined, there has to be a sufficient number of words to start producing grammatical speech and to understand syntactic constructions and communicative intentions.

Chapter 4 Early Constructions. Following Wells and Piaget principles, we can state that, when people interact with both people and objects, children conceptualise these interactions by means of a scene they form in their minds. This scene depicts the state of affairs and participants, and it is of many types: figure-ground, manipulative and possessive. Children use this kind of scenes to communicate their goals to others There are different constructions at different periods in children learning a language: 1. Holophrases: children using a single linguistic symbol to express their communicative intentions about an experiential scene. a. E.g. Mum, dad, just pointing out something

2. Pivot schemas, word combinations and expressions: children using multiple words to express their communicative intentions, partitioning the scene into at least two component parts. No syntactic symbols are involved. a. E.g. More _________, _________ gone 3. Item-based constructions (verb islands): children using syntactic marking word order or grammatical morphology to indicate explicitly some participant roles in scenes, but they do this differently for different item-based constructions depending on experience. a. Word order: SVO frame even with intransitive verbs by overgeneralisation. b. Case marking i. Agent-patient relations are easier due to its different functions. 1. E.g. German NP marker. 2. English substitute and reverse object for subject (acunom) in pronouns because of overgeneralisation. 3. Morphophonetically identical me/my case. These patterns are due to both the language children hear from adults speeches; specific words and phrases, and this does not allow children to make straightforward generalisations. They only undergo a process of schematisation through which they find patterns, and build constructions around concrete pieces of language gradually and thanks to frequency. Afterwards, through intention-reading, analogy and pattern-finding, children are more capable of constructing more abstract constructions and make overgeneralisations that they apply to many other aspects within constructions.

Chapter 5 Abstract Syntactic Constructions. The acquisition of abstract constructions happens when children takes a particular perspective of a scene and its participants (windowing-attention). These more abstract constructions are learnt in a gestalt way in chunks, whole constructions, through generalisation, analogy and functionaldistributional analysis. They are not learnt word by word as lexical approaches tend to advocate. The lexical meaning of a verb is not only important, but rather we should pay attention to the whole constructions elements and context of use. Analogy is a strategy that provides a way whereby students try to find whether constructions have things in common or not. By intention-reading learners are able to grasp the differences or similarities between different communicative functions they want to understand or express. For that reason: 1. They find identification, attributive or possessive functions in different constructions. 2. They use transitive object pronouns in intransitive verbs of movement. 3. They use double-object dative: ditransitive and prepositional distinctively. a. Content as object. E.g. The vase broke. b. Location as object. E.g. she cleared the table. 4. Resultative. Reorganisation of patternsabstracted schema. a. Causative notion: make, let. Phrasal causative intransitivetransitive. 5. Passive better in actional transitive verbs than in experimental verbs. E.g. got+adj+p.p. a. Truncated passives. Stative to active passives. b. Get something done is learnt by full passives unanalysed whole constructions. c. Middle-passive: inanimate as a subject+predicate. In English its uncommon. d. Reflexive pronouns uncommon in English vs. Spanish common use.

i. English marks the agent, its the same entity, while Spanish doesnt. 6. Questions a. Wh- questions NP V+-ing are learnt before any other word combinations. This is against the structural perspective. i. They learn in a gestalt way through a characteristic function (item-based to abstract). ii. There are some inversion errors, solved because of use. The Universal Grammar view towards HEAD and COMPLEMENT notion is quite narrow because it is not linked to a given string of words particular context. Pinker considers the verb as the central lexical item providing meaning. This is prototypical because it does not take into account unusual verbs. The construction grammar approach considers constructions as symbolic meaning units, there is a top-down interpretation coerced into the context, general cognitive, socialcognitive and learning skills. 1. Syntactic roles such as the English subject or transitive-subject or their equivalents in other languages are simply phenomena in this analogy-making process, based on similarities children see in the communicative function of certain slots. Categories such as noun and verb require understanding of the communicative function of many linguistic elements, such as nouns and verbs, as they appear in utterances (functionally based distributional analysis). Children constrain their growing abstractions and generalisations in their own language through usage and entrenchment; the more entrenched and used one construction, the less generalised its use applied to other constructions. Tense is used for marking temporal order of events. Stages of use by children: 1. 2. 3. 4. 1.6: here and now. 1.63: past and future. 34.6: past and future with other reference time (adverbs use). 4.6: they use verb morphology.

The problem arises when using aspect before tense. Aspect can be either lexical (situational aspect) distinguishing change of state and activity verbs, or grammatical (viewpoint aspect) how one construes an event; viewed from the outside as a whole (perfective) or as incomplete (imperfective). 6. Clausal and nominal constructions. Nomimal+clause+predicate nominal /adjectival constructions. Perspective-taking is highly required for listeners to identify referents in nominals from different speakers and discourse context. Clausal are cognitively complex because of interrelations of components in the joint attentional frame. Grammatical morphemes are difficult to learn for it being salient and plurifunctional in use. 6.1. Referents. 6.1.1. Deictics: - Pointing: only when the object of attention is available.

- Demonstratives: 1-year-old children use this/that. Problem: perspectival componentrelative distance from the speaker+ pointing gesture for segmenting communicative intention. - Deictic I/me/you shift: reversal errors you for I/me because of pragmatic confusion (poor skills of perspective-taking). Discourse problems are fewer when learning with siblings. Repetition/adult imitation of chunks errors. -Proper vs. common nouns referential distinction: -Proper noun: for single specific individuals, people and animals with interaction. -Common noun: inanimate entities. - Pronouns/null reference: more used than nouns. Referents that the speaker believes are activated by the listener (stressed/unstressed depending on the focus of attention). Problem: pragmatic assessing knowledge is limited. Its use relies on the interlocutors previous choices. - Noun phrases: they dont assume shared knowledge. Analytic technique of multiple-words as referents (common noun+ determiner) to specify a category, except mass nouns using some. - Mass/count nouns: 3-years-old when they make generic references to whole classes with common nouns instead of plurals. -Determiners fall into three categories: 1) demonstratives: deictic, pointing, no perspective-taking. 2) possessive adj. : used quite accurately 3) a/the problem: - The: derives from a demonstrative (deictic function) - A: derives from one. Natural observation with children confirms both. -2-years-old find them after a verb or a noun constructional frame distinction, not closely related. - Problem: specifity and giveness contrast. - Specific/available the vs. non-specific/new referent a. problem: perspectival/giveness component until they are 4. Error: overuse of new referents with definite article (egocentric error). - Verb phrases: - Types: changes of state/states/activities. - Changes of State v. : imply a spatial-temporal-causal relation. - States v. : imply a predicate. - Activity v. : sensory-motor action (objects and parts of the body)

- Movement and change are acquired before intentional action (1st of oneself, 2nd of others). - Number of participants involved: 1st about oneself because they typically involve only one object, not two participants. Dynamic before static states (get/have). - Aspect past tense: because of the language around them/low perspective-taking use of: - ing verbs with activity verbs (90%) + imperfective, atelic. - ed verbs with state verbs (60%) + perfective, telic. - Future tense and modality: it is the most difficult tense to understand for children. - immediate future better understood than remote future referents. - will modality (regulate interpersonal interactions) + futurity problem. - will: interpersonal (94 %) vs. gonna: personal dimension. - terms to express futurity (probably, maybe, might) only for future intention and on-going events not uncertainty. - Displaced temporal reference points: - 1st Scottish, 2nd British and 3rd American English. Present Perfect: difficult relation for past-present relation. - Modality: - Deontic modality: action+necessity based; imperative; demanding intonation. - Will, gonna, cant, dont - Epistemic modality: knowledge+possibility based; - I think/guess/bet/know/wish; must, should - must; should