One of the research programmes of the Central
Institute of Indian Languages is to encourage learner
centred interdisciplinary research. Such learner centred interdisciplinary research comes generally under the purview of psycholinguistics. The field of psycholinguistics is just a few decades old. In our country its birth is, however very recent. Yet, it is heartening to
note that the CIIL has several works to its credit in this area.
Some of the works initiated by the CIIL include
effects of medium of instruction on achievement, cognitive abilities and personality, an annotated bibliography on bilingualism, bilingual education and medium of instruction both in the area of bilingualism, simultaneous acquisition of two languages in developmental psycholinguistics and social psycholinguistics, language of as phasic in clinical psycholinguistics,
compatibility of language use in school textbooks ‘in applied psycholinguistics and silent talk, a work on non-verbal communication in social psycholinguistics.
The present work, ‘Development of Morphological Rules in Children’ is in the area of developmental and experimental psycholinguistics (Prideaux 1984). I have
been closely associated with this work in the twin capacities of a supervisor and an editor.
In the broader context, the issue of language acquisition has been examined by scholars of diverse disciplines like linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, neurolinguistics and so on. Corresponding to this expansion of research among disciplines is also
an expansion of analysis from merely describing and
analysing language to doing the same in a context-
bound situation. Further, the studies on language
acquisition have also shifted from examining language acquisition at a macro level to a micro level. These shifts have however contributed to rather than mitigating the
differences of opinion among scholars coming from
different disciplines and also among scholars coming
from the same discipline. Thus linguistically oriented
psycholinguists claim that language is acquired
through rules (Chomsky 1965). But psychologically oriented psycholinguists claim that language is learned through learning individual items (Skinner 1957). Even
among psychologically oriented psycholinguists it is
claimed that opera conditioning is used for language learning (Skinner 1957). For still others, classical as well as operant conditioning are used to learn
a language (Staats 1968). Currently, however, irrespective of the disciplinary orientations the emphasis ‘s on interactional approach where the roles of both
item and rule learning are recognised. Further, language development itself is being viewed as a dynamic process undergoing various changes in the process of
development. However even this view is not free from
controversies (Brown 1970 and Cromer 1983).
This monograph reflects these views and tries to
empirically establish the process of language development. The author is to be congratulated for drawing our attention to the subtleties of language development
with respect to two cognate Indian languages, Kannada and Tamil. The cross-linguistic comparison between these two languages showing similarities and differences in development of morphological rules in children is another significant aspect of the work.
Finally, a research work lives not by itself but
through the amount of work it is able to generate. The
CIIL will be happy if similar such works are conducted
across non cognate languages and across monolingual
and bilingual developmental contexts.
The study of child language is at present in a
State of flux; it is becoming more and more elaborate
in its methodology, and microscopic in the matter of
structural examination. As a result, researchers working in this area are constantly forced to draw in, and depend upon mere and more researches from other
disciplines like Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology,
Psychology, Neurology, Speech Pathology and so on
apart from researches in Linguistics proper. These inter-
actions, have on the whole, resulted in mute benefit
and have also widened the scope of Linguistics.
One beneficial outcome of this interaction, particularly between Psychology and Linguistics, is the
reciprocal enrichment of methodology. For example,
Berko (1958) a Psychologist, has devised an ingenious
method of testing children which is used even to this
day by researchers in this field (Derwing and Baker
1977 and 1979 and Sridhara 1980).
Using this methodological innovation, an attempt
is made in the present study to test children’s know-
ledge of morphological rules through their rule extension behaviour, across sex, socioeconomic status and age of the language learner. This study was conducted
in relation to two Indian cognate languages, Kannada
and Tamil, with a developmental perspective. 201
Kannada mother tongue speakers and 206 Tamil mother tongue speakers were randomly selected from mother tongue media schools, categorised for their
socio-economic status and the test on development of
morphological rule was individually administered.
The data obtained were processed and analysed
over morphological categories, in relation to sex, socio-economic status and age of children, using ANOVA,
Chi-square and ‘t’ test techniques. Taking the assistance of qualified statisticians, the data were analysed
through a computer. Some qualitative analyses were
also undertaken to obtain an insight into the nature
of rule extension.
The present monograph, which is the outcome
of the above mentioned study, has been divided into
five chapters. The first chapter, which is introductory
in character, gives the background of the study, critically reviews other works on the variables like sex,
socio-economic status and age, and brings out the need
for the present study. The second chapter deals with
the methodology of the study. In Chapter III the results obtained on Kannada and Tamil monolingual
samples are presented separately. Chapter IV discusses the implications of these results for variables sex,
socio-economic status and age on Kannada and Tamil
monolingual children, along with a cross-linguistic
comparison. The entire study, along with conclusions
is presented briefly in Chapter V.
Five appendices A, B, C, D, E have been included at the end. Appendices A and B contain
instructions to children for eliciting responses from
them in respect of rule extension over morphological
eateries in Kannada and Tamil languages. Appendix C is the response sheet for recording the children’s
responses. Appendices D and E relate to children’s
responses from five randomly selected samples in each
age-group highlighting the developmental features.
Graphs illustrating quantitative aspects of development
in younger and older children have also been included
at the end.
"The flute is sweet and the guitar is dulcet: So say they who
have not heard the babbling speech of their little ones", Thus
says the Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar, highlighting the sweetness contained in the child’s language. Certainly, a child’s language’ is
sweet to the parent’s ears because to their emotional attachment
to their children. But other features of a child’s language, such
as, its linguistic regularity and amazing speed of development
has captivated the scientists, generating an enormous body: of
research. These studies are aimed at answering the question of
how language develops in children.
One of the earliest study was conducted by the mogul
emperor Akbar (1542-1605) who had a palace called Gang Mahal
the ‘dumb palace’ built. He reared children in this palace with-
out exposing them to language in order to provide an answer to
this question (Crystal 1987). Later studies conducted by other
researchers were marked by greater degrees of scientific rigour
and continued to examine this question at a micro-level taking
specific aspects of language. The present Study in line with this
trend examined the development of morphological rules In
children. This study was undertaken by analysing children’s
ability to extend morphological rules to new instances (Berko
1958, Derwing and Baker 1979 and Sridhara 1980). The development of rules was inferred from such applications of rule
regularities to new situations (Slobin 1971C).
Several variables influence the Process of language development. A discussion of the role of these variables is essential for
an understanding of the controversial issues involved in them.
The factor of intelligence has not been taken into consideration
on the assumption that intelligence is not a crucial variable in
the study of normal population with normal language development (Deich and Hodges 1977). In comparing normal and retarded sample or sample with and without problems in language
development, this variable assumes importance. However, in a
normal sample, the random sample selection is expected to control the effect of this variable. Other variables like age, Sex,
socioeconomic status (henceforth SES) and nature of language,
may however, influence the developmental course.
I. VARIABLES INFLUENCING LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
A. Effect of Age on Language Development :
The age factor exerts tremendous amount of influence on
all aspects of cognitive development, including language. Historically, this was one of the first variables to be examined in
relation to language development. The age-wise examination of
language development has become quite pervasive and has in
fact opened up new vistas of psycholinguistic studies called the
Age is a crucial variable in as much as the process of
language development begins earlier than two years and is completed by the time the child attains five years of age. It is
customary to talk of a particular aspect of linguistic development
emerging at a particular age. Such developmental schedules help
m evaluating the normal and retarded developmental course.
However, the relationship between age and language development is not as simple as it seems to be. Studies on global
aspect of linguistic development show that language development increases with age (Leopoid 1939, Brown, Cazden and
Bellugi 1969, Brown 1970, de Villers and de Villers 1976). Studies on specific aspect of linguistic development, such as development of questions (Smith 1978), requests (Garvey 1978), word
meaning (Clark 1973) and morphological development (Berko
1958, Derwing and Baker 1977 and 1979 and Sridchara 1980)
confirm this progressive age-related improvement.
Interestingly, other studies do not support this view. These
studies show that the child’s language changes qualitatively
rather than quantitatively. That is from global and undifferentiated process to specificity and differentiation and this is attributed
to age-related factors. Studies on acquisition of datives (Ingram
1985), modals (Menyuk 1969), negatives (Bellugi 1967), plurals
(Ervin Tripp and Miller 1964 and Slobin 1966), relational terms
(French and Nelson 1985), Syntax (Chomsky 1969) and words
(Cromer 1983) report such findings. Further, it also appears
that the age at which qualitative differences emerge vary with
the linguistic system that is acquired. Cromer (1983) observes
that in the acquisition of words. two-year old children do better
than three year old children and four-year old children. the
later age groups being the transitional periods. However, five-
year old’s show a superior performance in acquisition of lexicon.
White (1966) studying the pattern of learning claims that differences appear with age and a change occurs at the age of five.
She suggests that this Change may be related to reorganisation
of brain chemistry. For French and Nelson (1985) who investigated the acquisition of relational] terms the transitional period
is at 40 years.
Thus there are controversies not only with regard to the
age-related development but also in relation to the age at which
differences appear, For Cromer (1983) the transitional period
begins at three years, but according to White (1966) it is at five
years of age. All these seem to suggest that the aspect of linguistic development that is under consideration is an important
intervening variable. Cromer (1983) examined acquisition of
lexicon, but White (1966) investigated patterns of word associations and language learning.
In the light of these contradictory findings the age variable
assumes crucial importance in the Study of language development. The role of this variable on development of an Indian language and in an Indian context has to be examined.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend