Notes on the “Self-Centered” Factor, Based on Data from Child Language Acquisition
Background. This study is based on large samples of language-data collected during the formative period of language acquisition (9–62 months) from free dialogues of English and French children. Analysis of the longitudinal development of children’s vocabularies expressed in terms of Parts of Speech showed that their acquisition develops surprisingly differentlyin these two languages. The hypothesis of the study is that first-language acquisition should respect identical principles, independently of the language acquired.
Objective. To analyze the observed properties of language acquisition data based on a general model of concept formation and information processing.
Design. Two models were applied: (a) Model of information processing based on reasoning concerning information, entropy, energy optimization, and evolution; and (b) Model of native semantic roles, based on the psychological approach of grounded cognition. The common factor in the reasoning applied in these models is that the process of concept formation is based on information generated by the biological system itself.
Results. A joint formal representation is obtained using these two models. The derived mathematical formalism showed remarkable agreement with the sample data. It explains the gradual acquisition of the two languages as one and the same process.The formal description suggests that the acquisition of verbs is accomplished with reference to the concept of Self as Actor, acting in the Environment.
Conclusion. The performed analysis is in support of the hypothesis that there exist inborn mechanisms of concept formation. The investigation of the joint model suggests that the concept of Self plays a central role in the language faculty.
Authors: Slavova Velina
Keywords: language acquisition, corpus analysis, mental representation, concept formation, Self.