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Psycholinguistics is the study of psychological and neurobiological factors that

enable human to acquire, use, comprehend and produce language. Psycholinguistics
covers the cognitive processes that make it possible to generate a grammatical and
meaningful sentence out of vocabulary and grammatical structures, as well as the
processes make it possible to understand utterances, words, text, etc. developmental
psycholinguistics studies children’s ability to learn language.
Psycholinguistics is the study of how humans learn language. Psycholinguistics
includes the study of speech perception, the role of memory, concepts and other
processes in language use, and how social and psychological factors affect the use of
language.1 Psycholinguistics is interdisciplinary and is studied by people in a variety of
fields, such as psychology, cognitive science, and linguistics. There are several
subdivisions within psycholinguistics that are based on the components that make up
human language.
All of us have language. But how did we learn to produce and understand speech? At
birth we cannot speak, nor can we understand speech. It is one of the fundamental task
of field of psycholinguistics to explain how all this has occurred. Writers will explain
about how children learn Language.

1 Richards. 1992. Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, pg. 433


1. The development of speech production

A. Vocalization

While babies a few months old do not speak, they do make sounds
through their mouths. In fact, they make quite a variety of sounds. They cry,
they coo like pigeons, they gurgle, suck, blow, spit and make a host of other
virtually indescribable noises. Exercise in articulation and control. Importantly,
too, the child gets practice in coordinating breathing with the making of sounds.
These same sounds ( crying, cooing, etc) are made by infants all over the world.
Even deaf make them.

Babbling is a type of vocalization where the child uses speech sounds,

mainly, vowels and consonant-vowel syllables, e.g. ‘a’, ‘u’, ‘ma’, ‘pa’. As the
period of babbling progresses, the more it sounds like the speech of the language
to which the child is exposed.

By 10 or 11 months children will often babble in pseudo non word

‘sentences’ using declarative , question and exclamatory intonation patterns.
First acquire the intonation patterns of their language, after all rhythm, pitch and
tress patterns. We become familiar with the melody, so to speak, before we get
to the words. It is this melody, this intonation pattern, that the infant learns first
to recognize and then to imitate.

B. The one –word utterance

First words have been reported as appearing in normal children from as

young as 4 months to as old as 28 months, or even older. On the average, it
would seem that children utter their first word around the age of 10 months.
Some of this variability has to do with physical development, such as the
musculature of the mouth and troat, which is necessary for the proper
articulation of sounds. Undoubtedly, too, certain brain development is also
involved since the creation of speech sounds must come under the control of

speech areas in the cerebral cortex.

Ann Landers, children would not be able to speak until well after 6
months of age. The slower ones catch up and the early speakers no longer seem
to have an advantage.

To determine just when a word has been learned is generally not an easy
matter. Simply the saying of sounds that correspond to a word in the language is
not enough. A parrot can do a good job of mimicking but we do not attribute
language knowledge to it. What we look for is the meaningful use of sounds.

The many uses of single word

A single word, even the same one, can be used for many different purposes, such

- Name

- Request something

- Emphasize actions

- Express complex Situations

It is believed, for the following reasons, that the child here was using a
series of three single-word utterances rather than one three-word sentences: there
were pauses between words, there was no sentence intonation, and the child had
only been at a single-word stage production.

C. Two – and three – word utterances

At 18 months or so, many children start to produce two-three-and three-

word utterances. The most striking features about the dozen or so very ordinary
utterances shown here are the variety of purposes and the complexity of ideas
which they exhibit. At only a year and half, children use language to request,
warn, refuse, brag, question, answer and inform.

Even such a small sample of utterances as this demonstrates how

advanced the child is from a cognitive point of view. The thinking and
conceptual abilities of the very young child are quite remarkable. Actually it was

just until the past few decades, when the study of child language intensified,
that the true conceptual abilities of the young child began to be appreciated. In
the past those abilities were greatly underestimate. And yet, the child’s reflect
only a small part of what the child knows and is thinking. For, the child already
can understand much more speech than he or she produce and undoubtedly has
thoughts and concept that are well in advance of the attained level of speech

Two – and three-word utterances are mainly formed of content words,

lacking function words and inflections, that this stage of development in a
child’s speech is often referred to as the telegraphic stage.

D. Function words and inflections

One two-and three word utterances have been acquired, the child has
something on which to elaborate. Function words like prepositions, the article
and auxiliaries are then acquired, as are inflections like the plural and tense
markings. The best single study on this topic was done by the noted
psycholinguist, Roger Brown. In a long term and very detailed study with three
children, Brown focused on the acquisition of different function words and
inflections, hereafter referred to as grammatical morphemes. A morpheme is a
root word or a part of a word that carries a meaning.

Even though Brown’s morpheme data are based on only three children
and the order would probably not be exactly the same for all English- Speaking
children, nonetheless the general order does fall in with what we would expect.
A very different order would be quite counterintuitive. By posing important
question raised by the data and then providing answers to these questions, I hope
that I may demonstrate this to the reader’s satisfaction.

E. Developing complex sentences

With longer utterances, simple structures typically develop into more

complex ones. Children start to make negatives, questions, relative clauses and

other complex structures. As an example of how such structures may be
acquired, the detailed development of sentence negation is instructive in this

The acquisition of negation, according to Bellugi and Klima and others

who later replicated their research, develops in three main periods. An outline of
each of these periods along with sample sentences follows.

Period 1

‘ No money’; ‘ Not a teddy bear’; ‘No play that’;

‘ No fall’; ‘No singing song’; ‘ No the sun shining’

In this first period, generally a negative marker (Neg) of some sort, ‘no’
or ‘not’, is placed at the font of an affirmative utterance (U). Thus we see
utterances of the typically of the form, Neg + U. Children everywhere seem to
do much the same thing. French children, for example, place non or pas before
U while Japanese children place the Japanese negative marker nai after U (U+
Neg) in accord with the observed structure of their language.

Period 2

‘ I don’t want it’; ‘I don’t know his name’;

‘ We can’t talk’;’You can’t dance’;’Book say no’;

‘ Touch the snow no’;’That no mommy’;

‘ He no bite you’;’I no want envelope’;

‘ There no squirrels’

We see in this second period, that the negative marker tends to appear
internally within utterances. The auxiliary ‘do’ begins to appear although in
combination with the negative marker (don’t). Utterances are of a rather crude

nature, though, and negative imperatives, ‘ Touch the snow no’, are as poorly
formed as they were in the previous period ( ‘ No play that’ , ‘ No fall’ ) .

Period 3

‘Paul can’t have one’;’This can’t stick’; ‘I didn’t did it’;

‘You didn’t caught me’; ‘ Donna won’t let go’;

‘I am not a doctor’; ‘ This not ice cream’;

‘Paul not tired’; ‘ I not hurt him’;

‘ Don’t touch the fish’; ‘Don’t kick my box’

The child has now a good idea of when ‘do’ must be inserted and when
‘do’ is not inserted. The child still makes errors but seems to grasp the basic
notion that ‘do’ is not added when there is a modal or when ‘be’ is the verb.
After this period, it is only a matter of months before most of the problems in
negative making are successfully dealt with.

While such wide differences in speech production are typical of very

young children, by 4 or 5 years of age it seems that most differences level off.
And, while there are still passives and other complex structures for children to
master, by this age they are able to produce most of the essential structures of
their language. It is perhaps by 9 or 10 years of age that all of the structures of
the language have been acquired.

2. Speech Understanding and its importance

A. Speech Understanding, the basis of speech production

We have known how children develop the ability to produce sentences. But what
is the source of that ability? Children are not born with the knowledge of any particular
language, it is necessary that they be exposed to the language in order to learn it. It is
further necessary that speech to which children are exposed be related to objects, events
and situations in the environment and to experiences in their mind.

Children will not learn speech, if there are exposed only to speech sounds. Even if
the child hears spoken word a thousand times, e.g. ‘cat’, there is no way for the child to
discover the meaning of the word unless some environmental clue is provided.

While the ability to utter speech sounds such as ‘cat’ in appropriate situations is a
good indicator that the child knows the word. So, if a child learns to imitate some
words, it does not mean that the child knows the word but if he uses in an appropriate

Now, in order to learn the meaning of the sound of the form of the word, the child
must first hear that word spoken by others. At the same time that the word is spoken
some relevant environmental experience must occur. These being the necessary
conditions for learning, it is clear that the child must learn to understand before he or
she is able to produce it meaningfully. It is necessarily the case that the speech
understanding precedes speech production.

Aside from the above considerations, there is empirical evidence that speech
comprehension develops in advance of speech production. Parents have always noted
that children are able to respond appropriately to speech that is more complex than what
they are able to say. Besides parental observation, finding from research studies which
were especially designed to compare understanding and production also demonstrate the
primacy of understanding that was conducted researchers, such as huttenlocher, Sachs
and Truswell.

Thus, after having considered the various aspects of relationship of speech

understanding and speech production, we can conclude that language learning may
occur but not without understanding.

B. Learning abstract words

When acquiring the meaning of the words, children soon understand and produce
some that are quite abstract. Words expressing feelings (hunger, pain, joy) and complex
ideas lie (untruth), honest, guess) are just some of those learned. What children must do
to learn the meaning of abstract word is to observe speech, along with situations and
events in the physical environment and then relate them to experiences and processes in
the mind.

For example, when children learning the words ‘hungry’. First children must take
note of when such words are spoken by others and the situations in which they occur.
The child might cry and the mother might then say, “Are you hungry?” the mother
might use the word hungry because she might estimate that it has been some time since
the child last ate. It is up to the child remember what words were spoken (hungry) and
relate them to particular feelings that the child has experienced in the mind.

C. Memory and language acquisition

Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to

perceive, produce and use words to understand and communicate. Underlying all of
remarkable accomplishments of the child in language acquisition is one crucially
important psychological factor, that of memory. For, in the course of learning to identify
the words of the language, revising rules for their use, and relating speech to the
environment and mind, the child utilizes a phenomenal memory capacity. The child
must remember a multitude of particular words, phrases and sentences, along with the
contexts (physical and mental) in which they occurred.

Children often remember, word for word, stories which they are told; children
also learn a sentence form. There is no reason, not to believe that children also store in
memory a multitude of ordinary phrases and sentences, which can serve them for
analysis later.

3. Parentese and Baby Talk

A. Parentese

Parentese is used to refer to the sort of speech that children receive when they are
young. The speech which parents and others use in talking to children has a number of
distinctive characteristics. For example, parents generally talk to their children about
what is happening in the immediate environment not about abstract or remote objects
and events.

When sentences are spoken to children are also tend to short, the structures are
simple, the speech tend to be slower, more pauses inserted. Also more words are given
stress and emphasis. Parents also use grammatical speech when talking to their children.

The characteristics of parentese evidently are ones which serve to make the

acquisition of language understanding and production easier for a learner. This is not to
say that if parents did not use parentese, their children would not learn language.
Undoubtedly they would learn language anyway. But, given the obvious facilitating
nature of parentese and the way it naturally arises, it may well be that children who
receive such language input learn to understand speech faster than children who do not.

B. Baby Talk

Baby talk is different from parentese. While parentese uses regular vocabulary
and syntax, Baby talk involves the use of vocabulary and syntax that is overly
simplified and reduced.

Shore and other researchers believe that baby talk contributes to mental
development, as it helps teach the child the basic function and structure of language.
Studies have found that responding to an infant's babble with meaningless babble aids
the infant's development; while the babble has no logical meaning, the verbal interaction
demonstrates to the child the bidirectional nature of speech, and the importance of
verbal feedback. Some experts advise that parents should not talk to infants and young
children solely in baby talk, but should integrate some normal adult speech as well.

Some researchers have pointed out that baby talk is not universal among the
world's cultures, and argue that its role in "helping children learn grammar" has been
overestimated. In some societies (such as certain Samoan tribes; see first reference)
adults do not speak to their children until the children reach a certain age. In other
societies, it is more common to speak to children as one would to an adult, but with
simplifications in grammar and vocabulary. In order to relate to the child during baby
talk, a parent may deliberately slur or fabricate some words, and may pepper the speech
with nonverbal utterances. A parent might refer only to objects and events in the
immediate vicinity, and will often repeat the child's utterances back to them. Since
children employ a wide variety of phonological and morphological simplifications
(usually distance assimilation or reduplication) in learning speech, such interaction
results in the "classic" baby-words like na-na for grandmother or din-din for dinner,
where the child seizes on a stressed syllable of the input, and simply repeats it to form a
word. In any case, the normal child will eventually acquire the local language without
difficulty, regardless of the degree of exposure to baby talk. However, the use of

motherese could have an important role in affecting the rate and quality of language

Most Baby Talk involves modifications in vocabulary. There are already establish
words like “bow-wow” (dog), “choo-choo”(train) in England etc. from the example we
can see that the main sound structure of such words tends to be dominated by consonant
+ vowel syllable unit which is repeated.

Another construction principle for many Baby Talk words, is that they represent
(somewhat) the sounds which various things make.

In English baby talk, it may be mentioned in passing, it is common to add the ‘iy’
sound to words ending in consonant, e.g. birdy for bird, horsie for horse, kitty for kitten.
This provides the vowel for the completion of the pragmatic consonant + vowel

Syntax play less prominent role in baby talk than does vocabulary. Parents seem
occasionally to use baby talk syntax. When they do, their utterances are strikingly
similar to those in the children’s telegraphic stage of speech production.

Whether baby talk should or should not be used is sometimes a concern of

parents, with intensity of concern varying greatly from country and country.

4. Imitation and correction

A. The role of imitation

It was once widely believed by theorists that children acquire language entirely
through imitation, i.e. by copying the speech that they hear. It is undoubtedly true that
children do imitate a great deal of what they hear.

On the other hand, while some language learning does involve imitation, this
principle is adequate to explain the fundamental underlying the acquisition of language.
Because imitation involve the reproduction of speech, it therefore cannot explain how
speech is understood, the knowledge of which is the basis of speech production. Nor can
explain the child’s acquisition of morpheme such us plural and past tense or structural
manipulations such as those Negation and Question. If there are not utterances made by
adults, the child will not be able to imitate. Thus, imitation does play an important role
in language acquisition.

B. The role of correction

Like imitation the role of correction in language acquisition has been widely
misconceived. Correction is not an important factor in that process. While it used to be
thought that correcting children’s speech is essential for improvement, research has
shown that such is not the case. In actual fact, parents pay little attention to the
grammatical correction of their children’s speech. Rather than correcting child’s
grammar, parents are more interested in responding to the truth value of what is said,
the social of appropriateness of what is said, or the cleverness of what the child says.
When parents do attempt to correct their children’s speech, the results are often fruitless
and frustrating.

Undoubtedly, there are instances where a parent’s correction does result

improvement. Still they are not great in number. In any case what serves typically as
correction is the mere repetition of the child’s utterance in corrected form. The child is
really given no direct clue as to exactly what is wrong with the utterance that he or she
has produced. And to give the child a direct explanation would often absurd. Children
naturally correct their own mistake overtime, without the intervention of others.


A. Conclusion

Language learning must be separated into two distinct, but related, psychological
processes; speech production and speech understanding. Children all over the world
need to learn language since at birth we cannot speak, nor can understand speech. As
writers explain in previous pages that there are two psychological processes that
children need to learn language, they are speech production and speech understanding.

A speech production is the first thing that children do after be born, such as cry,
suck, blow etc. after develop the speech production ability, children will learn to
understand the speech where they influenced by their parents.

B. Suggestion

At this time, writers want to suggest all readers about some tips in writing a paper.
Do not wait tomorrow something that you can today. Do not only use a reference only,
it will make your paper unbelievable. In writing the paper you will need some helps
from others, so never shy to ask something difficult to others. After all of suggestions,
writers also need suggestion from all of readers in order to be better in the future.