Acquiring the Human Language-Playing the Language Game

1024 words 5 pages
Video Viewing Guide for
“Acquiring the Human Language-Playing the Language Game”
(in the Human Language Series)

(Preview these questions before you watch the film. Take notes as you watch the film, then answer on a separate paper.)

1. What arguments in support of language as an innate ability are brought up in the film?

This video is about a great mystery; how do children acquire language without seeming to learn it and how do they do so many things with so little life experience.

2. Explain the ambiguity of the question asked by Jill de Villiers to both children and graduate students:
“When did the boy say he hurt himself?”
Why is this question ambiguous and why is it interesting to note that this question is ambiguous?

…show more content…

The questions behind the study was will the child look more at the screen that matches the language that they are hearing. And the result surprisingly show that they understand the order of the information.

8. An extended section of the film discusses how children learn new words. Explain the point(s) illustrated by the following examples:
-The child who calls his own dog “Nunu”, then applies the word Nunu to several other things (another dog, cow, slippers, salad) : Overgeneralization
- “The Gavagai Problem” (the big rabbit on a billboard) : Assumption - Child labeling an item a flimmick, a closed flimmick and a spud : Child expects object labels to refer to the whole object
- Children discussing the meaning of the word “alive” and the one child deciding that a car must be “alive”
A child picks out a category that is relevantly alike

9. The film moves to Papua New Guinea (home of 750 languages spoken by 3,000,000 people) and discusses language universals and then Universal Grammar.
-What aspects of language are candidates for language universals? Subject, Object, Verb - What are examples are presented in the film as evidence of Universal Grammar? There are certain kinds of mistake that children never seem to make. (ex. What did you eat your egg and?)

10. Explain what Chomsky means when he says that “all children are pre-programmed in advance of experience; they know


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