Using ‘and’ as a connector is one of the most pervasive ways children extend their utterances beyond the Two and Three Word Stages. It is used creatively for a variety of reasons. Between 25-35 months at least four functions develop: additive, temporal, causal and adversative. There is a cumulative effect to using these functions, each function being dependent upon the function that precedes it.
Linguistic competence is an abstract, internalized ability that allows us to reject certain utterances as ungrammatical and the ability to interpret grammatical utterances that we have never heard before. In contrast, linguistic performance is the behavior of producing actual, authentic utterances.
Children develop expressive language skills in the same sequential order. As they mature, the length of their utterances increases. Consequently we are able to relate the length of an utterance to a child’s age. As the basic element of language is the morpheme, it is appropriate to determine average (mean) length of a child’s utterances in relation to morphemes rather than words. This takes into account the child’s developing morphological skills as well as their syntactic skills. This article presents a protocol for calculating the mean length of utterance (MLU) and demonstrates how it can be compared against normative data to give an age-equivalent language score.
In an early and influential publication, Halliday (1975) proposed seven semantic functions that help to classify the meaning of first words used by typically developing children.
Processing a spoken utterance You might say that there is nothing that remarkable about processing a spoken utterance in order to understand it. You listen out for the phonemes and, as they come in, you store them in short-term memory until you have enough to…
The syntactic problem is concerned with the difficulty of assigning roles, such as subject and object, in sentences and the ways in which meanings are bound together. It is concerned with how we derive meaning from sentence structure. The brain analyses sentences by identifying key words, which provide slots into which the meanings of other elements can be bound.
The semantic problem refers to the question of how spoken utterances are understood – how we derive meaning from sequences of words. Three factors are important in resolving meaning: the phonological form of a word, the other words appearing in the utterance, and the wider context of the discourse.