Individual Differences in Language Development
Publication Year: 1995
Do all children learn language in the same way? Is the apparent “fast” vs. “slow” language learning rate among children a reflection of the individual child's approach to language acquisition? This volume explores the importance that individual differences have in acquiring language and challenges some of the widely held theories of linguistic development. Focusing on children ages one to three, the author describes characteristic differences in terms of vocabulary, grammatical, and phonological development, and considers whether distinctive “styles” of language development can be defined. In addition, the social and cognitive influences that can explain these differences are examined. The book concludes with a look at new language theories such as ecological, chaos, and connectionist approaches and considers what individual differences in development can tell us ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Introduction: The Importance of Differences in Language Development
- How Does the Study of Individual Differences Relate to Theories of Language Development?
- Challenges to Nativism
- Focus on the Child's Interchange with the World
- The Nature of the Child's Contribution: Modularity
- How Do Individual Differences in Language Relate to the Question of Mental Modules?
- Plan of the Book
- Chapter 2: Characterizing the Nature of the Differences
- Some “Classic” Cases
- How Do We Characterize These Differences?
- Lexical/Vocabulary Development
- Types of Words in Early Spoken Vocabulary
- Parallels in Content between Comprehension and Production
- Differences in Rate of Acquisition of Overall Vocabulary
- Summary and Implications
- Early Grammatical Development
- Use of Nominal versus Pronominal Forms
- Formulaic Expressions
- Dummy Words and Reduplicated Forms
- Pivot-Open versus Telegraphic Grammar
- Consistency in the Use of Word Ordering Rules
- Inflections and Grammatical Morphology
- Summary and Implications
- Phonological Development
- Sequence of Phonological Development
- Prosody versus Phonemic Analysis and Intelligibility
- Phonological Learning Styles
- Differentiating versus Simplifying Approaches to Phonological System Development
- Summary and Implications
- Pragmatic Development
- Informational versus Interpersonal Functions
- Orientation to Conversation/Context
- Do Form and Function Coincide?
- Are Expressive Children More Social?
- Summary and Implications
- A Look Forward
- For Further Reading
- Chapter 3: Are There Styles of Language Development?
- Strengths and Weaknesses
- Generalized Patterns: Correlated Tendencies
- Persistence over Time
- Continuity of Style into Multiword Speech and Productive Control over Grammar
- A Comparison of Large Sample and Individual Research on Continuity
- Convergence of Styles
- Do Language Styles Extend beyond the Early Stages of Acquisition?
- Within-Child Consistency across Situations
- Children Acquiring a Second Language
- Summary and Implications
- Relation to General Developmental Level
- Summary and Implications
- Are There Styles of Language Development?
- Chapter 4: Explanations for Individual Differences in Language Development
- General Environmental Explanations
- Relations to Gender, Birth Order, and Socioeconomic Status
- Other Characteristics
- Critique of General Environmental Explanations
- Social Explanations
- Variation in Type of Input
- Parental Responsiveness versus Directiveness
- Object/Social Orientation of Parent-Infant Dyad
- Critique of Social Models
- Nelson's Cognitive-Social Interactional Model
- Does Context Influence What Parents Say to Children?
- Do Form and Function Coincide?
- Do Children Make Differential Use of Input?
- Critique of Nelson's Model
- Cognitive Internal Explanations
- Orientation to Symbolization
- Patterners and Dramatists
- Analytic and Holistic Approaches in Symbolic Play
- Analytic versus Holistic Approaches in other Aspects of Sensorimotor Development
- Analytic versus Holistic Processing
- Critique of Cognitive Internal Models
- Internal Explanations
- Tendency to Imitate
- Critique of Imitativeness
- Object/Personal Orientation and Mastery Motivation
- Critique of Internal Motivation and Temperament Models
- Language-Specific Internal Explanations
- Biological/Genetic Underpinnings for Language Styles
- Explanations Involving the Language System
- Dissociations between Aspects of Language
- Differential Sensitivity to Language Input
- Neurological Explanations
- Critique of Language-Specific Internal Hypotheses
- Why Do Children Differ in Their Approach to Language Acquisition?
- Chapter 5: Conclusions and Future Directions
- Where are We?
- Summary of Language Style Differences
- Are There Styles of Language Development?
- Why Do Children Differ in Their Approach to Language Acquisition?
- Where Do We Go from Here?
- Research on the Nature of Individual Differences in Language
- Generalizability across Cultures and Languages
- Sources of Individual Differences in Language
- Research on Later Individual Differences
- Implications for Intervention
- New Directions in Language Development Theories and Their Relationship to Individual Differences
- Ecological Theory
- Chaos Theory
- Nonlinear Influences on Systems
- Equilibrium, Stability, and Ideal End States
- Responding to Multiple Influences: Emergent Causes for Patterns of Change
- Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions
- Parallel-Distributed Processing (PDP) or Connectionism
- What are Connectionist Networks?
- Language Development without Symbols?
- How Does Connectionism Account for Individual Differences?
- Common Themes in Ecological, Chaos, and Connectionist Theories and How They Apply to Individual Differences
- What Can Individual Differences Tell Us about the Mechanisms of Language Development?
- Theoretical Implications: Modularity Theories and Nativism
- Implications for Universality
- Implications for Domain Specificity
- Toward an Alternative Theory
Sage Series on Individual Differences and Development[Page ii]
Robert Plomin, Series Editor
The purpose of the Sage Series on Individual Differences and Development is to provide a forum for a new wave of research that focuses on individual differences in behavioral development. A powerful theory of development must be able to explain individual differences, rather than just average developmental trends, if for no other reason than that large differences among individuals exist for all aspects of development. Variance—the very standard deviation—represents a major part of the phenomenon to be explained. There are three other reasons for studying individual differences in development: First, developmental issues of greatest relevance to society are issues of individual differences. Second, descriptions and explanations of normative aspects of development bear no necessary relationship to those of individual differences in development. Third, questions concerning the processes underlying individual differences in development are more easily answered than questions concerning the origins of normative aspects of development.
- Dr. Paul B. Baltes
- Director, Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Education
- Dr. Dante Cicchetti
- Director, Mt. Hope Family Center, University of Rochester
- Dr. E. Mavis Heatherington
- Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia
- Dr. Carroll E. Izard
- Professor of Psychology, University of Delaware
- Dr. Robert B. McCall
- Director, Office of Child Development, University of Pittsburgh
- Michael Rutter
- Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, London, England
- Dr. Richard Snow
- Professor of Education and Psychology, Stanford University
- Dr. Stephen J. Suomi
- Chief, Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- Dr. Elizabeth J. Susman
- Professor of Nursing and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University
Books in This Series
- Volume 1 HIGH SCHOOL UNDERACHIEVERS: What Do They Achieve as Adults?
Robert B. McCall, Cynthia Evahn, and Lynn Kratzer
- Volume 2 GENES AND ENVIRONMENT IN PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT
John C. Loehlin
- Volume 3 THE NATURE OF NURTURE
Theodore D. Wachs
- Volume 4 YOUNG CHILDREN's CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS: Beyond Attachment
- Volume 5 INFANT COGNITION: Predicting Later Intellectual Functioning
- Volume 6 GENETICS AND EXPERIENCE: The Interplay Between Nature and Nurture
- Volume 7 INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
Cecilia M. Shore
- Volume 8 PERCEIVED CONTROL AND MOTIVATION
Ellen A. Skinner
Copyright © 1995 by Sage Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Shore, Cecilia, M.
Individual differences in language development/Cecilia M. Shore.
p. cm.—(Sage series on individual differences and development: vol. 7)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-8039-4879-4.— ISBN 0-8039-4880-8 (pb)
1. Language acquisition. 2. Individual differences. I. Title. II. Series.
P118.6.S48 1995 94-36207
95 96 97 98 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Sage Production Editor: Diane S. Foster
Series Editor's Preface[Page ix]
One of the most striking characteristics of the human species is its natural use of language. The bursting out of language during the second year of life is also one of the most dramatic aspects of infant development, tempting us to think about ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny. These species-wide aspects of language rightfully have grabbed the spotlight for centuries, leaving in the shadows an important fact: Human infants and toddlers differ widely in the rate, style, and outcome of their language development. When we zoom in from a species-wide perspective to focus on individual children, these differences among children pop out like a figure-ground illusion. These individual differences represent an important challenge for theory and research on language because work on species-wide themes may not apply to individual variations on these themes. Although questions about individual differences might also be more important societally, especially as they shade into the abnormalities of language delays and disabilities, I also believe that once we go beyond description toward explanation, questions about individual differences in development are more tractable empirically.
For these reasons, I am especially pleased to welcome Cecilia Shore's book into the Sage Series on Individual Differences and[Page x]Development. Through the book's several revisions, I have been impressed with Dr. Shore's scholarliness and seriousness in grappling with this burgeoning field of research. Getting on top of this mountain of data has allowed her to show us where the field is, where it is going, and most importantly, where it ought to go—including glimpses of such distant horizons as ecological, chaos, and connectionist theories.
I'd like to thank many people who have contributed to this work either directly or indirectly, especially Marjorie Suchocki, who taught me the word “epistemology,” and Elizabeth Bates, who expanded it to “genetic epistemology” and to whom I am forever indebted for her mentorship, for my intellectual life in general, and for this book in particular, and Inge Bretherton for her contributions to my understanding of infant social development.
I am grateful to Patricia Bauer, Wallace Dixon, Jr., Ling-yi Zhou, and Jim Bodle for their collaboration in some of the research described here and for their critical thinking and love of learning. Ling-yi and Jim, as well as Stacy Siebert, Blossom Richter, Betsy Davis, Christy Leak, and Shana Turner, have given me the benefit of their comments on previous drafts, and the manuscript is much improved because of them. Stacy, Blossom, Betsy, Christy, and Shana also gave me much-needed library and clerical assistance.
Thanks are also due John Bloom, Allan Pantle, Len Mark, and Marv Dainoff for discussions of “chaos theory” and connectionism.
I am very grateful to Robert Plomin, the series editor, and to C. Deborah Laughton of Sage. Their thoughtful suggestions, patience, and support have been unfailing. Thanks are given to two [Page xii]anonymous reviewers and to Lois Bloom for their intelligent reading and helpful comments.
Finally, my thanks go to Margaret Wright for stress-reducing “power walks,” to my family for their belief in me, and especially to my husband and son, Andy and Jesse Garrison, for their support and understanding of the many evenings and weekends that “Mom has got to go work on the book.”
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About the Author[Page 148]
Cecilia Shore is Associate Professor of Psychology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She received her B.A. in 1977 from the University of Kansas and her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1981. Her research involves cognitive and language development in infants and toddlers, specifically relationships between language and play. Her recent research has focused on individual differences in language and situational effects on what parents say to children. Her other research interests include the relations between conceptual and semantic development and memory for causal events.