A. Background of The Problem
Observing children language acquisition is an interesting thing to do. By doing this we can know the amazing development of children language acquisition from the age. There we will find what variables are influenced by the acquisition process. So far, we just know that acquisition of each child is different from one to another. However, we do not really see what striking variables happen. Are they different; or on the contrary they are all the same in whatever the ages. From here, the researcher is going to find out the significance of the study.
First Language acquisition is believed to be developed chronologically from the early age until the age of four or five. Some variables determining the first language acquisition are said to be the environmental setting, cognitive capacity, and the combination of both factors (interaction between cognitive and environmental setting). According to the theory of environmentalism (empiricism), children acquire a language through his experience that he gets from various environments. The more the exposure from environment, the better the acquisition process is. However, this theory was challenged by the innatism theory (Rasionalist viewpoint). Those rationalists believe that language acquisition is not a learned behavior but a biological gift that innately provide equal capacity to all human to develop their first languages. They suggest that child, born normally, has been potentially assigned linguistic competence and performance.
To clarify the stance of this study, the writer submits a hypothesis that age contributes FLA. If this is truly happening, it is then expected that every linguistic acquisition from age to age develops gradually in regular pattern. But if the result is negative or insignificant it can be said that age contributes little thing rather than expected, evenly in the extreme point age contributes nothing.
B. Research Question
The formulations of the problem are as follows:
1. Does age contribute Phonology First Language Acquisition?
C. Theoretical Background
Definition of FLA
There are two important terms to look first before defining FLA. They are First Language and Language Acquisition.
i. First language (L1) is defined as (generally) a person’s mother tongue or the language acquired first. In multilingual communities, however, where a child may gradually shift from the main use of one language to the main use of another (e.g. because of the influence of a school language), first language may refer to the language the child feels most comfortable using. Often this term is used synonymously with NATIVE LANGUAGE (Longman Dictionary: see first language); and
ii. Language Acquisition, as stated by Chaer (2003), can be defined as a process taking place in a child’s brain when she/he acquired his/her first language (mother tongue). Here language acquisition is differentiated from language learning. Language learning usually refers to processes happening when child learn his second language. While language acquisition is closely related to first language.
Considering the two propositions, we can define that First Language Acquisition (FLA) as the child’s process of attaining/acquiring his very first language in life.
Children from early ages to the ages of four or five are in preschool years. This period is being especially highlighted because it is in these early years that children experience tremendous cognitive and language development. This development shows exactly how their acquisition is being in process.
A brief about language form development is as follows (Silver and Goh, 2003):
The acquisition of PHONOLOGY—or rather its development—may be divided into two fields: SPEECH PERCEPTION and speech production. There are two reasons why the development of perception is prior to the development of production. One is that although the human ear is almost completely formed when the fetus is 7 months, the oral cavity of a human at birth is very different from the adult’s oral cavity. The second reason is that in order to produce the sounds of a given language, a child must be exposed to the relevant linguistic experience. Babbling infants, in fact, produce all sorts of linguistic sounds, even ones they have never heard in their linguistic environment. Although the first reason why perception is prior to production holds exclusively for the acquisition of the mother tongue (L1), the second holds both for the acquisition of L1 and of whichever language comes after L1 (L2).
A child comes into life well equipped to hear subtle differences in sounds (Eisenberg 1976). Though it is conceivable that some speech perception development starts before birth, because newborns discriminate the mother language from a foreign one (Mehler et al. 1988), it is generally assumed that the development of language perception starts at birth.
The most widely accepted theory of speech perception is the innatist theory, first proposed by JAKOBSON and much influenced by the work of Chomsky and other generative linguists. A mechanism, called the LANGUAGE ACQUISITION device (LAD), is assumed to be responsible for the ability humans have to analyze linguistic inputs and to construct grammars that generate them (see GENERATIVE GRAMMAR).
Given that some properties of language are common to all languages of the world; it may be assumed that these are the consequences of the innate human endowment. The development of a specific language is achieved through the setting of the values of a set of parameters on the basis of the linguistic data one is exposed to.
According to the innatist hypothesis, a newborn can discriminate between pairs of segments (consonant and vowels) attested in at least one language of the world, even if they are not distinctive in the language they are exposed to (Jakobson 1941). Testing what infants hear has become possible only in the last twenty years. The methodology to test young infants’ perception is the nonnutritive (or high amplitude) sucking method (Eimas et al. 1971). When infants are 6 months or older, the preferential headturn procedure is commonly used to test sound discrimination (oore, Wilson, and Thomson 1977). It has been shown that, indeed, for the newborn, the ability to discriminate does not appear to be related to the language he or she is exposed to (Streeter 1976). At a later stage of development, around 10 months, infants start losing the ability to discriminate sounds that are not distinctive in the language(s) they are exposed to (Werker and Tees 1984; Kuhl et al. 1992).
This is in line with the learning by selection theory of neurological development (Changeux, Heidmann, and Patte 1984). It has also been shown that already from 1 month, infants represent linguistic sounds categorically, that is, different acoustic variants of a sound are identified with one category (Eimas, Miller, and Jusczyk 1987; Kuhl 1993).
Perceiving phonological distinctions is not only relevant to the acquisition of a phonological system but is also essential to the development of both LEXICON and SYNTAX. Newborns are in a position similar to that of adults when they hear a language unrelated to any other language of which they have some experience. One of the problems in constructing a lexicon is segmenting a continuous stream of sounds. In order to build a lexicon, a child must come to understand where each word ends and the next one begins. Because newborns are sensitive to edges of phonological or prosodic constituents (Christophe et al. 1994) and to LINGUISTIC STRESS (Sansavini et al. 1995), it is conceivable that they use these prosodic cues to segment the continuous input (cf. PROSODY AND INTONATION).
According to the theory of language initialization known as prosodic bootstrapping, the prosody of a language also provides a cue to its syntactic structure (Gerken, Jusczyk, and Mandel 1994). Given its sensitivity to prosody, an infant should thus be capable of setting certain syntactic parameters long before the period in which he or she shows some knowledge of the lexicon (Mazuka 1996; Nespor, Guasti, and Christophe 1996). The early setting of parameters responsible for word order accounts for the fact that the monolingual child hardly makes any mistakes in the relative order of words when he or she starts combining them into small sentences.
Speech production starts with babbling, the first approximation to language. The vocal apparatus approaches an adult state at about 6 months of age, so it is only from this period that it is safe to talk about babbling. Though the segmental categories in babbling do not resemble those of the adult language (de Boysson-Bardies 1993), even at this first stage, speech production is influenced by speech perception: babbling does not develop normally without an auditory input (Oller and Eilers 1988). In auditorily unimpaired infants, suprasegmentals (i.e., rhythm and intonation) are acquired before segments are, as early as at 6 months (Whalen, Levitt, and Wang 1991). Around the first year of age, both the vowel quality and the syllabic structure of auditorily unimpaired babbling infants is much influenced by that of the adult language (de Boysson-Bardies et al. 1989; Vihman 1992). The first syllable type produced throughout the languages of the world is one formed by a consonant (C) followed by a vowel (V). This is also the only syllable type universally present. The segmental content of the first syllables is such that C and V are as far apart as possible in sonority—that is, C is pronounced with high air pressure in the oral cavity compared to the external air pressure, as in [p], whereas in the pronunciation of V, the internal pressure is similar to the external one, as in [a].
Subsequently different CV combinations develop and different parameters are set to give the full range of adult syllables such as whether a prevocalic consonant is obligatory or not or whether a postvocalic consonant is allowed or not. PHONOLOGICAL RULES AND PROCESSES also develop with time. For example, the centralization to schwa of unstressed vowels in English is not part of early productions
The theory of SPEECH PERCEPTION and speech production was introduced by Ingram, thru revising Jakobson and Stampe theory and combining Piaget’s cognitive development theory, known as Contrast and Process. Ingram confirms that a child acquire adult phonological system by creating his own structure (after perceiving adults’ modelling); and then change the structure if his knowledge on adult phonological system gets better. The following pictures can explain this process:
A. Data Analysis and Result
The best way to show how acquisition happens in different ages is by analyzing the linguistic factors (phonology, morphology, syntactic and discourse level).
The writer didn’t only conduct linguistic analysis to show their difference in each age but also discussed why the difference happened. There are two main steps to analyze the data:
1. Presenting the description of children’s utterance from its linguistic analysis
2. Interpreting the cause of why difference occurs in each age based on the data
3. Concluding the case study, whether age significantly contributes first language acquisition or not.
The result of Phonological analysis
Subject I (Ica 2 years old)
Hatta : Nuju naon Ica?
Ica : mam…!!!
Hatta : maem naon Ica?
Teh Ina : De…aaaam…am!!!
Ica : (No responding, she is eating)
The Ina : Tuh ditaros ku mamang, nuju emam naon?
Ica : Ayur…!! (cewing, mode on)
Hatta : Ica… mamang nyuhunkeun nya?
Ica : ha…ha…ha…ha… (Hitting me)
Hatta : Ca… enak teu sayurna?
Ica : enyak….!!!
Hatta : eta saha nami bonekana?
Ica : ka. (I think its mean “duka”)
Hatta : Ca… dipangku ku mamang yu, urang ameng, ke jajan, ica hoyong naon?
Ica : yu…!!! (no response about what she want to buy)
Teh Ina : Hatta… ulah jajan nu aneh-aneh!!!
Hatta : enya… am deui atuh teh… aam!!!
Ica : Mang embul…!!! (ha..ha..ha..ha)
Ica : mang ser bum…!!! (Snack Boom)
Hatta : Yup…!!!
Subject II (Rina 3 years old)
Hatta : Rin… ameng yu, tingal mamang mah gaduh nu kieu!!!
Rina : Mang, ta naon? Kango naon?
Hatta : ieu MP4, kanggo ngarekam!!!
Rina : (Thinking)
Rina : Naha aya laguna?
Hatta : Aya atuh… sok Rina hoyong lagu naon?
Rina : mang, aya apgan? (Afgan I think)
Hatta : ha..ha..ha..ha ari budak ayeuna!!!
Hatta : Rina tos emam acan?
Rina : tos tadi.
Hatta : sareng naon emamna?
Rina : Kupruk!!!
Hatta : Kurupuk kituh…!!!
Rina : Kupruk!!!
Hatta : Ku…ru…puk…!!!
Rina : Kupruk mamang…!
Hatta : nya atuh, kumaha Rina we!!! Ha..ha..!!!
Subject III (Wini 4 years old)
Hatta : Wini… megat tukang bubur yu di payun!!!
Wini : hoaaaah… (She is sleepy)
Hatta : Hoyong teu bubur?
Wini : Hoyong.
Hatta : yu atuh, cuang ka payun, urang pegat tukang buburna. Ke lamun teu ngalieuk wae… tukang buburna baledog ku Wini nya…!!!
Wini : nyak…!
Hatta : Bubur…!!! Mang bubur gitu win!!!
Wiin : mang bubur!!
HAtta : mang meser.
Wini : mang meserrrr!!!
Hatta : Mang, dua, nu hiji tong dikacangan!!!
Hatta : Wini sedep bonteng teu?
Wini : Sedep…!
Wini : Mang, nganggo kecap sing seeur!!!
Tukang bubur: Ngga…!!! Dua wae A?
Hatta : Dua we… seeur-seeur teuing atuh kecapna Win, amis teuing keh, jiga kolek wae…!!! Ha..ha..ha..
Wini : Wios atuh,da hoyong, enak da mang!!!
The data used in the study were collected from one dialog transcriptions with children –that are Ica, Rina, and Wini ranging age two, three and four years old. As already mentioned earlier the writer will analyze the difference acquisition in every age by doing Phonology analysis:
Phonology is the study of the patterns and distribution of sounds in a language. Child of age 1-2 years still in rough speech its(the organ, so that they still saying one just syllables from word which there is in a sentence, like the one is said by Ica when replying question:
Hatta : Nuju naon Ica?
Ica : mam…!!!
And when saying “mang ser bum…!!!” (Snack Boom). Differs From Rina which has three years old. She has been able to say disyllable like when telling “Mang, ta naon? Kango naon?” but there are still some of words that is in rough is said, like “ta” It should be “eta”.
While Wini having age 4 year, oldest from both the chlids it is of course Wini’ability in producing word is highest than Ica and Rina. It can seen from data that when Wini tells “Mang, nganggo kecap sing seeur!!! and Wios atuh,da hoyong, enak da mang!!!”. This influenced by development of their speech organ which follows their age. The older their age, the better their speech organ and they can speak more fluent like adult speech.
Based on the linguistic analysis, the writer finds that the hypothesis of age doesn’t work like expected. There is an inconsistent degree of language acquisition after the three children (Ica, Rina, and Wini) compared. The writer initially expects that the result would go this way:
Sees result of analysis to usage difference is having linguistic from third of the example hardly seen. Simply age also influences ability to produce language, which is talking at child. Proven by international one year, every child is having ability to produce sound which is immeasurable as according to their age. The older they are, the better their speech.
Age, not absolute influences ability of child of producing voice, simply environmental also hardly is having an effect. So writer concludes that Ica’s ability in producing is voice lower than Rina, and ability of Wini is above Rina’s ability.
Ghozali, Imam. 2008. A Modul for Psycholinguistics. UST Yogyakarta
Silver and Goh. 2004. Children Language Acquisition. Singapore: Longman Press
Chaer, Abdul. 2003. Psikolinguistik: Kajian Pengantar. Jakarta: PT Rineka Cipta
THE CONTRIBUTION OF AGE IN FLA: A CASE STUDY TO
ICA, RINA, AND WINI
Arranged to fulfill the Task of Psycholinguistic Study
Asep Solikhin and Hatta Pujalalana
FACULTY OF EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES AND TEACHERS’ TRAINING