Question: The acquisition of language is known to be faster in children as compared to adults. Elucidate the various reasons for such an intriguing difference.
The study of language acquisition owes the basic stage of scrutiny to the fact that children are known to grasp words and their meanings at a remarkable pace. According to a survey by Carey (1978), by the age six a child becomes accustomed to nearly 14000 words. This is something so intriguing that many researchers delved upon the concept of language acquisition solely to learn more about the ways children learn (Markman).
According to Ellen M. Markman, children use certain “assumptions” that make them understand the meaning of a particular word and retain that knowledge by relating the meaning of that particular word to something familiar. They also refrain from indulging in the separate facets of a particular word, or an object, and are keener to remember the word as a “whole” and not by its related elements. Markman refers to this observation as the “whole object and taxonomic assumptions”. He opines that a child would know the word “dog” for what it literally means and not by its characteristic features. For instance, they would not relate the word “dog” to ‘brown’, ‘furry’ or ‘four-legged’. However, yet another attribute of a children which help them to retain a new word is that even though they do no ponder of all the possible characteristics of one particular word, but they try to relate it to something which they are familiar with. For instance, it’s easier for them to remember the word “dog” if they know a person who has one. They would immediately relate a “dog”, or any other dogs for that matter, to the one person they are acquainted with and who they are not likely to forget easily. These are some of the basic ways in which children acquire new language skills and retain new words at a break-neck speed up to a certain age.
- Markman, Ellen M. "Constraints Children Place on Word Meanings." (2014): Print.