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Children learning their L1 (fuit: Creating conlang grammars using prototypes)

From:Benct Philip Jonsson <bpjonsson@...>
Date:Friday, October 6, 2006, 20:23
Lars Finsen skrev:
> Den 5. okt. 2006 kl. 17.02 skrev R A Brown: > >> Exactly! They are not rules in the way that, say, the >> rules of a club or society are rules. In other words, >> they are not prescriptive. > > Uhmmmm, not sure of that either. The way I see it, > language for children is a game in which you get along by > learning the rules, like any other game. If you don't know > the rules, you just stumble and falter along the way, just > like in chess or football. Mastery requires very good > knowledge of the rules, but like in all games, flair comes > into it as well, and rule-bending. Some bits of language > evolution (far from all) is caused by the tendency for > bending the rules that's so inherent in human nature. > > LEF
I read the other day that a big part of phone*ic language change is that as children learn to speak they mimic the sounds that adults make as well as they can with their smaller and differently proportioned articulatory organs. As people grow up and their articulatory organs grow and change in shape the articulatory movements acquired in childhood don't cahange accordingly, and so subtle articulatory are introduced from generation to generation. Some of them no doubt get 'corrected' as people modify their pronunciation in order to be better understood, or due to social and/or geographical mobility, but there is also a part which remains 'uncorrected' and so change accumulates over generations. Change in other aspects of language is probably subject to similar effects -- not only is there no such thing as '*the* rules' for a language, but also whatever rules, subject to social, geographical and individual variation, there are must be guessed at by children. In extrapolating their own set of rules from the utterances of their elders small children are not only conditioned by the quality and quantity of the input, but also by how their perceptions and mental processes differ from those of adults. There certainly is an aspect of rule- bending and play with 'the rules', but this enters the picture only with older children and adults. An example of how children's linguistic perception differs is the fact that my 8-year-old uses the Swedish word _knappt_ in the meaning 'not at all' or even 'not'. My telling him that it really means 'almost not' or 'just barely' (for which there are other, parallell expressions which he uses correctly) doesn't cause him to change his usage. Apparently he has encountered the word without knowing its meaning, but assumed that its meaning was akin to _knappast_ 'hardly, not likely', whereafter he's formed the hypothesis that it was a negation and then stuck to this hypothesis because of apparently succeeding in making sense of the utterances and situations where he encountered the word. There probably enters a measure of obstinacy into the fact that he won't change his usage in spite of correction, but it may also be a proportion of immature semantic perception involved. Every parent has moments when they realize that children are not merely under-sized or immature adults; they are fundamentaly *other* in many respects. -- /BP 8^)> -- Benct Philip Jonsson -- melroch at melroch dot se "Maybe" is a strange word. When mum or dad says it it means "yes", but when my big brothers say it it means "no"! (Philip Jonsson jr, age 7)