As we remember from last week there are three perspectives on language. We have behaviorists, psycholinguistic and lastly interactionist. Generally speaking, language is considered to be determined by factors in both the environment and a person’s neurobiological makeup. After reading of these three perspectives on language, one was able to see how each one complimented the other and in some cases even overlap.
Infants repeat words or babbles after their caretakers without knowledge or clear meaning of those words; reinforcement of babbling and shaping vocal behavior account for the first stages of learning noting that it will later turn into words that will be associated with meaning and promote communication (Silva, n.d.). This supports the critical period in which one learns language if presented with enough stimuli (based on the environment in which they are exposed). Meaning if language is not established during these critical periods, then the individual will never achieve full command of language (Silva, n.d). Gleason touches on this issue and also relates it to socioeconomic status, meaning that parents from high SES tend to talk to their children using object labels and fewer directives than parents from low SES.
There are also different language components that can be argued, and later would be used by Chomksy and later Pinker. This was the argument of the innate human components and its different intricacies. Cain later built upon this argument that there is an innate large component to human language, such as infants preparing neurologically to organize speech that they hear through the human language (Silva, n.d.). This would account for language that is learned and also language that they make up themselves such as phrases and sentences that no one has said or heard before.
Considering all these ideas and theories I regard my own language development, biology and environment. I am the middle child of three girls. My older sister is four years older than I and my little sister is eight years younger. Growing up I was fortunate because I already had my older sister. I do believe that it is a huge positive component for language development. My older sister was very quiet growing up, but perhaps she did not have the benefit of a sibling or two like myself and my younger sister. My mother was a teacher so reading started early for all of us. Before we were even born my mother said she would talk to us like we were already out of the womb and play music a lot. Before we read or write we were surrounded by it. My father was a coach, so we were constantly exposed to many high school athletes and coaches who would speak to us frequently. We also were involved in sports by age four and I could already dribble a basketball by age three. Due to this type of exposure, I relate my first years most to the behaviorist theory, meaning behavior is acquired through operant conditioning, in which adults reinforce accurate sounds towards language (imitating/modeling). I use this as the primary exposure and development of language because I was constantly with other adults. I imitated what I saw not only in language but behavior. I always think of Meet the Fockers, when Focker says a cuss word when he is babysitting and the toddler will not stop saying it. This is proven to be true not only with obscenities but of all words.
Gleason, J. B., & Ratner, N. B. (2017). The development of language (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. Chapter 7, “Theoretical Approaches to Language Acquisition” (cont’d from Week 2. Chapter 8, “Variation in Language Development: Implications for Research and Theory” (pp. 196–214).
Silva, R. (n.d.). A Brief Discussion on the Biological Factors in the Acquisition of Language.