Psychology

Title

A developmental approach to language acquisition: Two case studies

Document Type

Article

Abstract

The aim of this article is to revitalize and extend functionalist approaches to language use and language acquisition by utilizing a theory which focuses on general issues of human development. The emphasis here is to show how such developmental considerations enable one to reconstruct a growing child's own efforts to acquire and use a language in increasing accord with cultural demands as to a telos of language development. Two case studies are presented. The first one deals with early phases of language use, in which we analyse subtle ontogenetic changes in the organization and reorganization of personal pronouns referring to the Self. In the second case study, we focus on language modifications during later ontogenesis, analysing the changing functions involving the nominal-pronominal contrast and the contrast between particular tense-aspect markings. It is argued that the ontogenetic changes in both sub-domains are illuminated by exploiting in their analyses Werner & Kaplan's Orthogenetic Principle, in which development is defined in terms of increasing differentiation and hierarchic integration in human functioning. In a final section, we distinguish our Developmental Approach to language acquisition and language use from other functionalist approaches. © 1991, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

First Language

Publication Date

1-1-1991

Volume

11

Issue

31

First Page

121

Last Page

141

ISSN

0142-7237

DOI

10.1177/014272379101103106

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