Syntactic and Vocabulary Development in Children: An Investigation of Mother-Child Discourse

Sep 28 2007

Adewole A. Alagbe
Department of English, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria.

There is no doubt that parents and children start communicating well before the latter can meaningfully use language. It is established that the early stage of communication exchanges are full of gestural language and these are usually initiated by the adults from very early on. The development of language has been reported to be fast. It has been observed that during acquisition, children progress from sounds (babbling) to their first real words sometimes before age one, depending on the rate of language growth of the individual child. It is based on this fact that this paper sets out to investigate the syntactic and vocabulary development in childhood. This paper hopes to do this by appraising the word classes that dominate the comprehension and production words of a child. The paper also critically looks at how the earliest words are understood and those produced by a child are related. List of words comprehended and produced by a child would be compared. The results our paper hopes to prove that the level of acquisition for comprehension is higher than that of production, which clearly shows that comprehension precedes production in terms of language development. Based on the word-class analysis, it shows that action words are central to vocabulary development even though they are expressed in different ways during comprehension. It is observed that action words are used by a child to initiate actions in production while non-action words accompany a child's actions.

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