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III. Evolvement of language in the healthy child P.291
Each of these latter sentences has a distinct phrase-marker. … (last paragraph on page 290) …..More succinctly stated: the reason the first phrase “the shooting of the hunters,” may be interpreted in either of two ways is that speakers of the language see grammatical relatedness to two semantically very different sentences. The fact that all speakers immediately see these relationships clearly indicates that this must be based on some underlying grammatical principle by which one grammatical structure, that is, one type of phrase-marker, may be related to another .We have illustrated a universal principle of grammatical knowledge or understanding: there must be lawful ways in which certain types of structure may be related to other types of structure. The grammatical laws that control these relations have come to be called transformations.
FIG. 7.6. Structural interpretations have varying levels of depth. Semantic interpretation is another level. (The diagram is not meant to convey any depth-ordering between semantic and structural interpretations.)
292 Primitive stages in language development
Transformations are statements of grammatical as well as semantic and phonological connections.
In Fig. 7.6 are diagrammed varying levels of ambiguity. In Fig.
Another prominent feature in the understanding of sentences is the ubiquitous possibility of seeing relationships and various types of affinities between sentences that have very different types of structure and are also phonetically and lexically different from one another. This is diagrammed in Fig.
(4) Structural Characteristics of Children’s Primitive Sentences
In the absence of systematic research on children’s understanding of adult sentences, and hence of their developing “analytic equipment” for syntax, we can only make educated guesses at how grammar actually develops. The study of adult syntax makes it clear that discourse could not be understood, and that no interpretable utterances could be produced, without syntactic development pari passu with lexical and phonological development. Syntax is the calculus, so to speak, of functional categories, and the categories are arranged hierarchically from the all-inclusive to the particular.
The child whose language consists of nothing but single word utterances has obviously a more primitive syntactic understructure than the mature speaker. Syntactic categorization is the speaker’s act of super-imposing structure; he assigns given lexical items to parts of speech. The child’s syntax is primitive because all of his words have the same syntactic function: they may be used as a self-sufficient utterance. There is just one undifferentiated syntactic category, and any word heard or produced is assigned to it. If we wish to introduce Chomskian notation already at this primitive stage. We might use the equation or rewriting instruction as he calls it,
which reads in this grammar a sentence S is formed by the use of any word that belongs to the classｗ, and all of the child’s words do belong to it.
Notice that it would make no sense to ask whether the child, at this stage, knows more adjectives than nouns or whether he has any verbs. Strictly speaking, adjectives, nouns, verbs are modes of functioning, given a complex syntax. But since the syntactic conditions for such functioning are not yet present, we cannot ask whether the infant has verbs. We do not ask whether a fertilized human egg thinks or what the social order among chicks is before they have hatched.
The joining of two words in a single utterance is a sign that the initial global category, labeledｗ, is splitting up into two functionally distinct categories. The following example , collected from Braine (1963), Brown and Fraser (1963), Brown and Bellugi (1964), and Ervin (1964), show that the two words are not random concatenations but that a functional distinction is emerging.
“find it” “here sock” “more milk”
“fix it” “here allgone” “more nut”
“drink it” “here is” “more up”
etc. etc. etc.
A paradigm is clearly being formed.
One of the two words has a higher frequency of occurrence and seems to be a grammatical functor, whereas the other word appears to come from a large pool of lexical items with a great variety of meanings. Braine (1963) has called the functor words the pivot of these two-word sentences. The entire utterance seems to “turn around them.”
It is not always easy to recognize the pivot of the two-word utterances, and we cannot always be sure how to characterize the sentences formally. For instance, “mommy sandwich,” “baby highchair,’ ‘throw daddy,” “pick glove” are all quite typical productions. At present, there are no reliable procedures to demonstrate that the two elements of these sentences belong to two different syntactic categories, although such an assumption is not unreasonable. We may have the primitive subject-predicate distinction.
The structure of these second-stage sentences might be characterized formally by diagrams such as these:
294 Primitive stages in language development
By the time he uses three-word sentences, further differentiations of categories have taken place. We now find utterances such as these:
“fix a Lassie” “my horsie stuck”
“here two sock” “poor Kitty there”
“more nice milk” “that little one”
At this stage, many types of utterances are heard, and it becomes increasingly difficult to describe the child’s syntactic skills by an exhaustive catalogue of phrase-markers. Instead we endeavor to discover the principles by which these structures are recognized and produced.
The last examples cited illustrate, however, the progressive differentiation of syntactic categories. The structure of these sentences may be characterized by postulating a splitting of the earlier category ｗ into two, namely a modifier m and a noun N. A tree diagram might look like the following:
(5) General Comments on the Genesis of Phrase-structure, Nested Dependencies, and Recursiveness
兒童的語言一開始只能由單一句所構成，依照Chomskian notation的方法，他把兒童早期的語言結構用S→ｗ這個方程式代替，就是句子只由單一句所構成。這個時期認識的形容詞比起名詞來的多，甚至還沒認識所謂的動詞。慢慢的兒童由單一句變成了雙詞句，詞形變化也慢慢發展，而且學到了動詞。但是還是很難辨認他們所要表達的是什麼，像“mommy sandwich,” “baby highchair,’ ‘throw daddy,” “pick glove”，無法明確了解他們所想表達的意思。雙詞句的結構可用以下圖示來說明:
雙詞句過後，接著就是三詞句，例如 “fix a Lassie”，“my horsie stuck”，“here two sock”，“poor Kitty there”，“more nice milk”，“that little one”，在這個階段，很多語詞的型態就會被我們所聽到了，兒童也慢慢增加了困難的語法來描述他們所想表達的東西了。用以下的圖示更能清楚看到三詞句的結構: