Resources for Communication Problems

Tuesday, March 4, 2008



Take the first point. Someone may hold out an opened pack of cigarettes and ask.“Smoke?”or a person may answer the question“Do you smoke?”by means of the one-word“Yes”or the question“which one of these boys was seen to smoke?”by“Johnnie”and so on. Countless other example are possible. In every instancewe are clearly dealing with eilipsis. The single word utterances are only interpretable by virtue of the listeners ability to supplement the omitted part of the sentence. The first instance is interpreted as the sentence,“Do you smoke?”,the second as“I smoke”(or, “I do smokehence“Yes, I do smoke.”)and the third as“Johnnie has been seen to smoke.”There may ,in some instance, be ambiguity because not enough context is given to enable the listener to place the single word into the intended sentence. But generally it is correct to say that the meaning of word is uninterpretable in social commerce, unless we have enough clues with to construct a sentence for that word.


The second point is factually correctutterances heard in colloquial English(or any language, for that matter)do not conform to what we know to be correct grammar. We must make here a distinction. There are indeed utterances that are totally“ungrammatical,”but they are also uninterpretablewe do not know what the speaker was trying to say. On the other hand, much more often we do know what the speaker wanted to say even though his utterances are clearly ungrammatical. This may be because he omitted part of the sentence or because a sentence is begun as if it were to end in one way but is actually concluded by using the second half of a different type of construction.(Several variations of this are possible.) Our capacity to understand such semi-sentences can only be due to a facility to supplement the omitted part of incomplete sentences. Thus, the interpretation of semi-sentences is not simpler than the understanding of grammatical sentence but actually requires a special abilityto supplement the missing parts of a partially concealed pattern(analogous to pattern-completion in visual perception).If a sentence is under certain circumstancesOsgood(1957) cites the example,“Garlic I taste, this is not necessarily a sign that syntax may be abandoned at will rather of the existence of correspondence that do not ordinarily enter into the writing of normative grammars. The rule of correspondence in this case relates the form of the“Garlic”sentence to the form of such sentences as“I taste garlic”The example cited is not necessarily an instance of agrammatism but merely that of an admissible rule. That the types of such rules are limited (or that the rules have a psychological reality) is seen in the fact that the words in this sentence cannot be permutated in all possible ways.


In the light of this discussion, how do we explain the onset of language development where it is a universal finding that children begin with one-word utterance? Does this mean that the observations on adult language are false? Or that they are irrelevant? I do not believe that either us the case. To the contrary, if we assume that child’s first single word utterances are, in fact, very primitive, undifferentiated forms of sentences, and that these utterances, and that these utterances actually incorporate the germs of grammar a number of phenomena may explained.


There is a period at which an infant may have a repertoire of up to 50words including such items as daddy, here, milk, up, baby, etc. He will utter any one of these words in isolation and they may meanDaddy, come hereDaddy went by-byno milkmore milk, please etc. But even though the child’s memory is sufficient to know all of the 50 words. and even though he hears such phrases as here is your milk, shall daddy take you by-by, etc., he will neither join together any two words he knows nor can he be induced to do so upon request. This cannot be explained by assuming that he makes himself better understood this understood this way, that the reference of the words(that is, the association with the object)is still too narrow and fixedor that he has no need for putting words togetheror that he cannot vocalize for that long a period of timeor that thus due to poorly developed general memory. All of theses assumptions are refutable by observations. Nor would any of theses assumptions make it clear why the child suddenly and spontaneously does begin to join words into two-element phrases.

有一個時期嬰兒有高達50個字,包含一些項目,例如:daddy, here, milk, up, baby等等,他將孤立的發出這些字的任一個來表達意思,例如:Daddy, come hereDaddy went by-byno milkmore milk, please等等,但就算小孩的記憶力可以記下50個單字,甚至他聽的一些片語例如:here is your milk, shall daddy take you by-by等等,他既不會把他知道的單字串聯在一起也不會試圖詢問,這不可以經由他讓自己變的更好的方法來解釋,這些相關的字(包含物體)實在太狹窄及固定,或他不需要把這些字串聯在一起,或他不可以發出這麼長的時間,或由於記憶發展的很緩慢,這些假設都可經由觀察被駁倒,這些假設都不可清楚的解釋小孩爲什麼可以突然自動的進入雙語時期。

The assumption that the early single word utterances are primitive syntactic unitsin a sense primitive sentencesfind support in the following considerations. Semantically, and in terms communication, the single words seem to function in the same way that sentences come to function later onthey cover a complete propositionfor instance, they may stand for a statement such as, Daddy is coming down the street. phonologically they may be operated upon by a given rule. Much the way a whole string of symbols is operated upon later onfor example, one of variety of intonation patterns the utterance such as declarative, interrogative, or hortative pitch-contours. It is reasonable to assume that the formal processes that regulate the perception and production of sounds are essentially the same as those that enter into syntax and that the one-word stage is simply a transitional stage during which the rules are extended from the interaction of articulatory movements to the interaction of larger language units, namely morphemes words, and that the eventual acquisition and mastery of grammar has its origin right at the beginning of language developmentotherwise we would have to assume that some day the child “discovers”grammar and makes an effort to learn this phenomenon, which seems farfetched.

關於早期單字發聲的假設者要是以句法為單位-一個早期句子的知覺,從下列的原因有支持的證據,在語意上,會話時單詞的功能和句子之後的功能相似:她們包含了完整的主題:例如:他們可能會產生一個像Daddy is coming down the street.的句子,在語音上,他們會產生一個規則,產生一連串的記號使以後可以管理,例如:會利用一些圖示來表多樣的語調、疑問詞、或音調的輪廓,這就是爲什麼我們確信正常語音感知的調節、產生過程和構成語法是一樣重要的,且單語時期是延長構音運動到比較大的語言單位的過渡時期,專有名詞,最後才習得文法規則,且是從初的語言演變來的,反則我們將確信小孩某天就突然「發現」文法及習得語音,但這太牽強了。

(3) Theoretical Considerations

(a) Understanding-Speaking. It is easier to construct a theory that explains why adults understand sentences the way they do, than a theory that explains why or how a given seguence of words is produced by a specific person at a specific time. This is not say that understanding language is based on a separate mechanism from producing language. Both are based on the same apparatus of principles. But if we test an individual. There must be certain motor capacities, memory, motivation, a specific train of thoughts, given social conditions and factor.



It is easier to study general capacities for behavior than the specific forms that behavior will take at any one time, and it is easier to predict the capacity for understanding than the capacity for speaking, because there are fewer factors affecting the former than the latter. A similar point, but with further refinement, is made by Chomsky, Appendix A, under the headings of competence and performance.

研究行為普遍的能力是比研究特定行為在某時刻的形成簡單、且預測理解的能力是比預測說話的能力簡單,這是因為影響前面的因素地影響後面的因素少,相同地,從更近一步的研究中,由Chomsky, Appendix A提出在下方的標題-形成能力。

The distinction made here is relevant to many types of behavioral studies. Suppose we wanted to make a psychobiological study of chess playing. For instance, we wanted to know ,“What are the mental characteristics necessary for this game?”or, “Can a chimpanzee learn to play it?”The empirical questions that would be asked in this research arecan a given subject learn the various moves? Can he develop a strategy? Does he see the implications of his adversary’s moves? And so on. We to know whether he can comprehend the game. If we had nothing but a catalogue of his moves without a report of what his opponent was doing(that is, how he understood his opponent’s game), we should have an imperfect idea of his competence as a chess player.


That the understanding of language is more relevant to an estimation of language capacities may also be seen from the followingwe can learn to understand a language without ability to speak it. This is true of primary language acquisition, as well as the acquisition, as well as the acquisition of a second language. In these cases, the underlying principles of the language are acquired, but the development of the skills for production are lagging.


No comments: