Resources for Communication Problems

Sunday, January 6, 2008






It is true that the sentences of the deaf gradually improve as they advance in school.

It is also true that this is due to instruction, but it is probably not so much due to grammatical instruction as to the child’s increasing contact with language examples from which he begins to abstract structural commonalities that help him to synthesize his own sentences. He knows as little about how he does this as we who are capable of speaking or writing in grammatically correct ( or at least understandable) sentences.

Because of examples such as those quoted here we are led to the conclusion that language instruction of the deaf would profit from (1) greater access to written material at an earlier age, (2) greater freedom in written expression, (3) greater acceptance ( on the part of teachers and parents) of primitive language productions and grammatical deviations, and (4) a ban of grammatical meta-language until a basic proficiency in language is fully established.


The study of grammar in the adult and in the child leads to the following hypothesis. In the mechanisms of language we find a natural extension of very general principles of organization of behavior which are biologically adapted to a highly specific ethological function. With maturation, the neonate begins to organize the perceptually available stimuli surrounding him and also to organize the movements of his muscles. Sensory data become grouped into as yet undifferentiated, global classes of gross patterns, and these, subsequently, become differentiated into more specific patterns. Similarly, movements which at first involve the entire body become differentiated into finer motor patterns. Both the perceived patterns and the self-produced patterns of movement become organized or grouped in functional categories, and hierarchies of categories. Members of a particular category are functionally equivalent because they either elicit an identical response or they serve one and the same function within the over-all structure of a particular behavior pattern. It is these general principles of differentiation and categorization that appear in specialized form in verbal behavior. They influence the organization of perceived material as well as the motor output.

Thus the characteristics of phrase-structure (as described by phrase-markers) appear as the natural outcome of an application of the differentiation principle to the acoustic patterns, called language. Also, the transformational principle in language appears to be virtually identical with the cognitive principles that underly the ability to categorize both the patterns of the environment and the patterns produced by our own movements. Whenever grouping occurs in terms of a common denominator( in other words, categorization that is in some empirically determinable way natural to the categorizer, be it animal or man), an essentially “transformational”process is involved. This is most clearly seen where the constituents of a single category lack any common physical dimension and where the commonality is thus an abstracted pattern or structure. In these cases, the physically given, sensory “reality”is transformed into abstracted structure, and similarity between the two physically different patterns is established through the possibility of transforming the abstracted structures back to either of the physically given patterns. All perceptions of similarities and relations depend upon the organism’s capacities for transformations; but this capacity is limited biologically. There are only certain ranges of transformations that a given species can handle. The range is always quite narrow and may be discovered by empirical investigations (just as sensory thresholds may be determined); but within the established limits there is still an infinity of possible transformations. Some such transformations may be possible but difficult for a given species to handle, and the animal may require much experience before it can make the transformation.

The transformations of grammar are biologically specialized transformations, applicable to acoustic patterns that have in man the function of communication. This type of transformational capacity is clearly biologically given, but the specific transformations as they occur in one or another language are just some of the infinitely possible ones.

A superficial survey of language development in defective children revealed the following points: an individual’s knowledge of language, as determinable by testing his comprehension, may be established in the complete absence of capacities for language- or speech-specific responses, that is, the ability of the learner himself to speak. This emphasizes the importance of Chomsky’s competence-performance distinction and makes those language theories doubtful that are primarily based upon a response-shaping hypothesis.


聾小孩會提取結構上的共性來合成他自己的句子。而聾小孩可以用下列幾個方法來學習語言: 1)童年的時候就有良好的管道學習寫作 2)寫作表達的自由度高 3)語言產生早期有高接受度 4)語言基本熟練的建立。




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