Why Children Are Able to Make Utterances of Words That They Have Never Listened to Before

Published: 2021-06-23
877 words
4 pages
8 min to read
Harvey Mudd College
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This article is a presentation of the manner in which children start to make use of language and mention syllables and words that they have never listened to before. The foundations of meaningful speech and how they have been a favorite subject of pronounced debacles among linguists have been mentioned in the article. In as much as generativist accounts have been seen to accredit syntactic abstractions as the essence of linguistic productivity in children, there is an opposition by constructivist approaches which as an alternative place an emphasis on the slow simplification acquired from frequently listened to forms (Meylan, Frank, Roy & Levy, 2017).

In this study, there was a development of a Bayesian model which placed measurements on the levels of abstraction that are implicit in childrens early usage of the articles a and the. The results depicted that many corpora used in previous instances have been too small to permit researchers to make judgments between myriad theoretical positions. All the same the study makes a representation of considerable number of data sets inclusive of the Speechome corpus; which comes off as a brand new ultra-dense data set for a single child, presented evidence of the manner in which low initial levels of language productivity and elevated levels much later in the development. It is quite noteworthy that the findings of this particular study affirm its own hypothesis; a hypothesis is a statement that gives a tentative answer. This study was meant to prove the hypothesis that children lack rich grammatical knowledge at the outset of language learning but rapidly begin to generalize on the basis of structural regularities in their input.

Background of the Study

For a long time now it has been very baffling how children acquire their language skills and then after is able to utter words that they have never had an opportunity to hear before. This capability is known as productivity and has been and still is a hallmark of human language. The study by Stephan et. al., looked to find a valid reason behind the insights within which children sourced their invaluable insights from that defy how language experts perceive the process of language development. This study is in line with the fact that adult human beings have linguistic

Representations which in one way or the other materialized by means of syntactic abstractions that assume the form of articles and myriad other things; whats more, there is a need to know whether the reason why children make such utterances is because they are around adults most of the time (Meylan, Frank, Roy & Levy, 2017).

Hypothesis of the Study

This study was meant to make an affirmation of the hypothesis that children lack rich grammatical knowledge at the outset of language learning but rapidly begin to generalize on the basis of structural regularities in their input.


The researchers modeled the utilization of every noun indication by means a definite article as the result of a probabilistic generative procedure.

Critique of findings

The study does very well to explain the reason why children are able to make utterances of words that they have never listened to before. However, the study does not determine a relationship it mentions at the start of the paper i.e. do adult like abstractions guide how children produce and comprehend language?

Personal Analysis

The study is for the most part is insightful since it makes use of several premises that reinforce its deduction. Ultimately, it is worth mentioning that in as a much as a lot of critique can be directed to the methodology and recommendations, the hypothesis of the study still holds water.

Discussion of relevance

The relevance of this article is that it shows how when children, in their very tender age, start to make use of language and mention things that they have never heard before. In essence, what the study affirms is that at first, when normative linguistic constructs are not in play, children already have a foundation and a basic form of language within which they later place other well developed forms of language the moment they get to learn from people around them (Meylan, Frank, Roy & Levy, 2017).

How the article relates to topics discussed in class (can relate to future topics)

The human capacity for language is what can define what we study in class. This article resonates with what we are learning in class because children and how they develop language are still a part of humanity.

Suggestion for a follow-up study

This peer reviewed article by Stephan et. al., gives invaluable insights on how language is developed in the lives of children. All the same what the study does not bring into view is how there is a shift from grammatical emergence of an abstract grammatical category in the early speech of children to the linguistic perfection that is later realized in teenage-hood and early adulthood. Follow up studies should be put into materialization and determine what agents act as proponents of language development in children from the time they start uttering basic syllables like ma and ba up to the time they finally can make up admissible sentence structures.


Meylan, S. C., Frank, M. C., Roy, B. C., & Levy, R. (2017). The Emergence of an Abstract Grammatical Category in Childrens Early Speech. Psychological Science, 0956797616677753.


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