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Lexical Density

Lexical density is a useful measure of the difference between texts (for example, between a person’s written language and their speech). To calculate this we must distinguish between lexical words and function words. The lexical density of two real world examples is calculated and interpreted. Lexical density is shown to be a useful measure of how much information is contained within a text.

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Linguistic Performance and Linguistic Competence

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.

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Linguistic Processing

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…

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Mean Length of Utterance

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.

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Morphology

Morphology studies the internal structure of words and their alteration through the combination of morphemes. A morpheme is the smallest element in a language capable of creating a distinction in meaning. There are bound morphemes (e.g. -s, -ed, -ing) and free morphemes (e.g. go, stop, run).

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Pragmatics

Pragmatics is the study of the social use of language. It examines how people understand and produce communicative acts in real world situations. Speakers will style shift depending on the context of their talk. The form of utterances can be varied by altering morphology, syntax, vocabulary and phonology. The ability to consciously shift the style of speaking to suit the occasion is important in social contexts. This ability may be reduced in people with communication difficulties.

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Semantic Categories

Back in 1973, the linguist Roger Brown identified several categories of meaning that all children seem to express. He called these categories semantic categories, which literally means ‘meaning categories’. We will consider four of these: (1) AGENT, (2) OBJECT, (3) ACTION, and (4) LOCATION.

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