January 2013 English Language A2 Exam Write Up: Language Acquisition - Question One What Was Written: Throughout the transcript one key factor highlights Ruby's linguistic development consistently: false starts. On line nine of the transcript, Ruby makes her first false start with 'what did it (.) what was it...'. This false start reveals an awareness of speech and Ruby's ability to understand language and, more importantly, her own language. This awareness and confidence in her speech is possibly encouraged by her Aunt also correcting her own false starts, such as 'is there (.) do they not get (.)'. This correction may be inadvertently teaching Ruby that correcting your own language is expected and encouraging awareness of her own speech. However, it may also be possible that the false starts are just a natural part of Ruby's speech as a young child. Berko and Brown theorised that children do not hear their own incorrect pronunciation, as they believe they are pronouncing each word correctly. This theory is conformed to within the transcript with Ruby not recognising her mistakes in the question 'what's up wiv Felma'. As Ruby understands her aunt when she refers to the cat as 'Thelma', it is easy to assume that Ruby did not recognise her pronuniciation error. With the preposition 'with' being pronounced 'wiv', it can either be deemed a normal pronunciation error or as a result of cultural influence or regional dialect. This mispronunciation may be a learned mistake due to the dialects and accents of those speaking to or around Ruby, rather than a mistake along the same lines as pronouncing 'Thelma' as 'Felma'. Throughout the majority of the transcript, the two speakers adhere to a rather uniform turn taking pattern, conforming to pre-learnt politeness techniques. For the most part, this is because Ruby's aunt leads the conversation with questions for Ruby. However, at one point in the conversation the adherence to the turn taking structure is broken, with Ruby interrupting Lou's speech with 'Sim (.) Simba slept...'. This interruption shows that Ruby cannot always follow politeness structures. The interruption is possibly due to overexcitement or enthusiasm surrounding the conversation. It is most likely that despite being taught how to take turns politely in conversation, due to the closeness of the relationship between Ruby and her aunt, Ruby's politeness and awareness has slipped, making her more likely to interrupt. One feature of Child Directed Speech that occurs consistently though out the conversation is formulation. Lou repeatedly uses this technique to prompt clarity and correct grammar in Ruby's speech. For example, when Ruby says 'she (.) she can explorer', Lou rephrases the sentence to say 'when she gets bigger she can be an explorer'. This formulation prompts Ruby to develop her language further into the post-telegraphic stage of acquisition, in which she begins to use more complex grammar and longer, fully formed sentences. As well as this, the repeated use of formulation complies with Vygotsky's 'More Knowledgeable Other' theory, in which a child needs a caregiver or teacher to act as an 'MKO' to aid them in their development and prompt them in the growth of the 'Zone of Proximal Development', the level a child can reach with the help of an older figure, or 'MKO'. One feature of language acquisition that is also displayed in the transcript is paralinguistics. Ruby uses hand gestures to express something that she lacks the vocabulary to say, by accompanying 'that (.) bit' with a hand gesture 'pointing left'. This shows that despite Ruby's relative confidence in her speech, she does still struggle with elements of articulation. The use of paralinguistics naturally accompanies speech, developed or not. Ruby uses paralinguistics to add clarity to her speech, to aid Lou's understanding of what Ruby is trying to say; this shows that Ruby understands different methods of communication and how to express herself in many different ways. Chomsky theorised that every child is born with an innate 'Language Acquisition Device' that enables them to learn the most complex grammatical structures. He argues that this is why children progress at similar rates across the world (not taking into account neuroatypical children or 'feral children'). However, within the transcript there is evidence that does not conform to this theory. On line nine, Ruby says 'Simba bitted a dog'. The use of 'bitted' instead of the form 'bitten' shows that Ruby does not understand one of the more complex structures that Chomsky argues are 'innate', showing that there are holes in his theories of acquisition. What was said: B+/A-, Good Work, I would suggest analysing data and then applying theory, rather than writing a summary of the theory. This way you stay closely tied to the data throughout.