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ANTHRO33: Lecture 6 (10/11/16)

by: Viola You

ANTHRO33: Lecture 6 (10/11/16) ANTHRO 33

Viola You

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About this Document

Language Acquisition.
Culture and Communication
E. A. Cartmill
Class Notes
Anthropology, Language, acquisition
25 ?




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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Viola You on Tuesday October 11, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTHRO 33 at University of California - Los Angeles taught by E. A. Cartmill in Summer 2016. Since its upload, it has received 7 views. For similar materials see Culture and Communication in Anthropology at University of California - Los Angeles.

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Date Created: 10/11/16
Language Acquisition and Socialization Characteristic features of baby­talk (“motherese”) ● Pitch ­ higher ● Intonation ­ exaggerated and slowed ● Laxicon ­ reduced, specific to childhood ● Diminutives ­ increase ● Reduplications (repetitions) ­ increase ● Sentences ­ simpler and shorter ● Time and space reference ­ more here and now ● Routines ­ increase ● Cooperation and expansion ­ increase Is it universal? Adapting to children ● Self­lowering ● Child­raising Cooperation and expansion ● Parents in child­centric cultures construct sentences and narratives  cooperatively with their children by providing a structure and prompting them to fill in  pieces ○ Kinda like Mad Libs ○ Ex: “Clifford is a….”  ■ “DOGGY”  ■ “and he is really…”  ■ “BIG” ● Parents expand their own utterances and the child’s utterances, building on what was just said ● Child is active participant in the conversation, parent contextualizes what child  says to have them involved in talk NOT TRUE OF ALL SOCIETIES Differences in interactional patterns ● Child­centered vs situation­centered ● Gerontocracy vs neontocracy ○ Elders are more in charge than younger Chomsky and Language Acquisition ● Noam Chomsky (born 1928) ● American linguist, philosopher, political activist ● Nativist view ­ from birth ● Poverty of stimulus → need for innate structure ○ Idea that children don’t have enough examples to become  proficient at language ● Language­specific structures and learning ● Universal Grammar (UG) ● Language Acquisition Device (LAD) UG and poverty of stimulus ● Claim: children’s understanding is more sophisticated than their exposure to  language can explain (poverty of stimulus) ● Requires underlying template of Language (UG), which is then fine­tuned  through exposure to language ○ Note upper and lowercase use of language ● Setting one feature can have cascade effect ● Example: prepositions vs postpositions ○ English: in the house ○ Nepali: gharma (house in) ● Others argue that generalized learning mechanism can explain language  acquisition and no LAD is needed Reciprocal relationship between learning language and culture Becoming a competent member of society/community → Acquiring a language (including ways of speaking) Socialization of language and language as socialization ● Learning a language and becoming part of a society are two parts of the same  process Ergative Marker ● Transitive event: The owl kicked the penguin ○ One individual doing one thing to someone else ○ SHE kicked HER ● Intransitive event: The owl danced ○ Individual doing one thing ○ Nominative­accusative (English): SHE danced ○ Ergative (Samoan, Mayan, etc): HER danced Speed or order of features during development can differ across languages ● Children learn ergative markers later than children in other language with these  markers ● In Samoan, use of ergatives depends on degree of intimacy with other speaker ● More familiarity = fewer ergatives ● Children hear more familiar speech and hear fewer ergatives Do children just parrot what they hear? ● Not simple reflection ● Children use forms they have never heard directed towards them ● Use language that is most appropriate to their needs and roles Sometimes they make errors based on what they hear ● Tells us how they learn ● Ex: Pronoun reversal ­ Tarzan: “You Tarzan, me Jane” ○ improve with multiple models (younger siblings are less prone) Study of 3 cultures: facets of communicative interactions 1. Social organization of verbal environment of young children 2. Extent to which children are expected to adapt to situations or situations are  adapted to children 3. Negotiation of meaning between parent and child Problems with American researchers studying American families ● “Paradox of familiarity” ● Need to consider the descriptions of American caregiving as ethnographic  descriptions ● How caregivers and children speak and act toward one another is linked to  cultural patterns that extend beyond those contexts Ex: Kaluli attitudes toward young infants ● Children are “soft” and “have no understanding” ● Infants are to be pitied and thus looked after ● Mothers carry infants (most often facing outward so that they can see and be  seen by others) ● Older children are encouraged to greet and speak to infant and mother often  responds FOR infant using high­pitched voice ● Doesn’t use baby talk when speaking as baby ○ Speaks assertively  ○ Does what infant can’t yet do Language environment of infants ● Speakers often repeat sounds back to infants but don’t act as though infant is  trying to say specific things ● As infant becomes mobile, his/her actions are often commented on by older  speakers ○ Not directed to infant, but relate to what infant is doing ● Language to infants isn’t simplified ● Language doesn’t begin until infant acquires specific words “Teaching Language” to infants ● Once child begins to speak, older people believe he/she must be taught how to  speak ● Model what the child should say ○ “Say like that” ● Direct instruction used to teach social uses, not object labels → what is  socially appropriate? ○ Example: to get infant to be assertive to others ○ Effective communication is infant’s responsibility, not adult’s Samoan social attitudes ● Highly stratified (hierarchical) society ● Caregiving is hierarchical too ○ Oldest person present is highest­ranking caregiver ○ High­ranking caregiver gives instructions to low­ranking person Samoan attitudes towards children ● Young infants (<6mo) are not treated as communicative, their noises are  interpreted in relation to physical needs ● Speech about infants is common, but speech to infants is primarily songs or  highly rhythmic ● When infant becomes mobile, others often regard him/her as mischievous and  willful Language environment of Samoan children ● Language to children not simplified ● Children prompted to speak in certain ways to others ○ Ex: convey new information to higher­ranking people ● Effective communication is infant’s responsibility, not adult’s ○ Adults may ask for clarification, but they do not attempt to  decipher infant speech Conclusion from these theories ● Developmental research has over­focused on dyadic mother­infant interaction ○ Similar to over­focus on monolinguals? ○ In some cultures, interaction with children is typically multiparty  rather than dyadic ○ Older children are often caregivers and linguistic models ● Ideas about appropriate ways of interacting with children and expectations for  children are cultural Is the way parents talk to babies SPECIAL? ● Caregiver speech is distinct, but is it the only kind of language that has a specific  register? ● Conveys expectations about ways of interacting with different kinds of people ○ In US, simplified speech is used for both babies and ESL people ■ Accommodate to all speakers who are not fully  competent ○ In Samoa, simplified speech is used for foreigners, not infants ■ Accommodate to high­ranking people only General thoughts ● The process by which language orientation develops is similar across cultures ● From birth, children: ○ Orient towards human faces ○ Pay attention to the human voice ○ Notice patterns in sounds and images ● During first year, children: ○ Start to learn what sounds are meaningful in the language around  them ○ Play an active role in shaping their environment through action,  gesture, and sound The process by which the language use develops is culturally sensitive ● Children learn expectations about whom to talk to  The process by which the language structure develops is both similar and different across  cultures ● Children in different cultures start using different kinds of words earlier than  others ● But all children probably learn some local pieces and then some general rules  and then some exceptions to those rules ● All children are generalizers ○ This capacity for generalization applies to both language and  culture Socialization across the lifespan ● Language socialization does not end with childhood ● Social roles can change over time and influence language use ● New terms and practices can accompany training in new professions ○ Example: hair salon ­ “silkening” vs “flattening” Example: Law students ● “Think like a lawyer” ­ talk like a lawyer ● Students must shift footing frequently ○ Be animator for words and opinions where they are neither  author nor principal ● Both lawyers and hair stylists become socialized into a professional identity  through language


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