Reading Questions 

Child Language, Fall 1999

Chapter 4        Communicating with language

Part 1. Early Syntax and Semantics: The Two-Word Stage
(See also "Reading question/exercise" handout)


  1. What are the problems in identifying the beginning of the two-word stage?
  2. Why is the two-word stage sometimes called telegraphese?
  3. What are the two crucial questions in child language study?
  4. Do young children operate with adult syntactic categories?
  5. How does the word order usage of children compare to the word order usage of adults?
  6. What are Brown's Stage I and Stage II?
  7. What is the criterion Brown used for determining acquisition of a grammatical morpheme?
  8. What is MLU? What is it used for?
  9. What does Berko's study show?
  10. How is the acquisition of morphology complicated by other factors?
  11. How might Howe be wrong about the early semantic system?
Part 2. Advances in Lexical Development


  1. What are the two principles involved in the development of this/that and here/there? How does children's use of these words develop?
  2. How does children's use of article develop?
  3. How does pronoun use develop? (See also the PRONOUNS handout)
  4. What factors complicate the acquisition of words for spatial and temporal relationships?
  5. What's the difference between tense and aspect?
  6. What are the two theories about the development of tense and aspect?
  7. How do modals develop?
Part 3 Syntactic Development

  1. What makes it hard to interpret stages in the development of negatives? (See also the NEGATIVES handout; Hsu 93-97 for negatives development in Mandarin)
  2. What do the stages for English negatives seem to be (maybe)?
  3. What conclusion can be reached about the acquisition of passives?
  4. What do the stages in the development of questions in English appear to be? (See also Hsu 97-103 for questions in Mandarin)
  5. In what order are WH-words learned?
  6. What can be said about children's comprehension of questions?
  7. How are main verbs important in the development of complex sentences?
  8. What is the order in which coordinating words are learned?
  9. What does the acquisition of coordination show about the relationships among syntactic structures and conventional meanings?
  10. When is full acquisition of the conditional system achieved?
  11. Where are relative clauses first produced, and in what position do they seem easier to understand?
  12. Try to draw a tree diagram for "After he drank, the lion left" to help you understand c-command.
  13. What are the major developments in children's syntaxby 3 ; 6?
Part 4 Pragmatic Development in the Linguistic Stage

  1. What are Halliday's three major functions of language?
  2. How does turn-taking develop?
  3. What cohesion markers do children use?
  4. How do children achieve coherence in conversation?
  5. How does children's use of directives develop?
  6. What factors complicate children's understanding of directives?
  7. What can speakers do when an attempt to communicate fails? How do children deal with this type of situation?
  8. When does self-correction seem to begin? What type of self-correction is earliest? Why do children self-correct?
  9. How do children respond to clarification requests? How does their own use of clarification requests begin to develop?
  10. Do children correct each other?
  11. Do children speak to all people in the same way?
  12. How do children manage to tell their earliest narratives?
  13. Why does the textbook present different conclusions about many aspects of the development of communicative competence?