What Can a Two Year Old Say
The transcripts of the two infants Sophie and Katharine show the conversations between them and the adults. From this brief recorded moment in the conservations we can deduce the stages in which the children are at. By the age of two children should have just passed the two-word stage and are in or going to progress into the telegraphic stage.
At two children are in the process of forming correct grammatical structures (for example forming correct inflections or question forms), pronouncing consonants at the end of words, understanding different words and how they relate and acquiring ‘communicative competence’ (that is the skills associated with conversation). All of this depends on amount of adult interaction a child receives.
When analysing children’s speech and their stages in development, the stage that each child is at and the speed of acquiring language varies for each individual and therefore if one child is behind it does not mean they are less capable or less intelligent, it is merely the fact that they might have had a slower start as can be seen in the transcripts of Sophie and Katharine despite being roughly the same age. Grammar From the transcript Sophie has shown less complexity (or confidence) in her use of grammar. For instance, her syntax order in one of the sentences is incorrect: “No. Mary come me. Only little bit. ”
There is the absence of the determiner “a”. However, her question forms are near enough perfect with no errors, whereas for Katharine although most of her sentences are syntactically correct the formation of her tag question is not. Katharine asks, “We do Jason again shall we? ” as opposed to “Shall we do Jason again? ” Therefore, this implies that Katharine has heard a new way of forming questions from an adult and is now trying to form them herself and integrate it into her speech.
For Katharine she is in the 2nd stage of constructing questions and Sophie is in the 3rd stage. Also, Sophie is still dependant on “No” in expressing negation (thus, she is still in the first stage of negative forms) whilst on the other hand Katherine has a variety of ways in expressing negativity. Katherine has shown more development as she uses “don’t” and even the slang “dunno” with which she probably imitated from an adult (thus, she is in her third stage). Lexis From a lexical perspective, Katharine is yet again more developed than Sophie in this area.
Sophie seems to be lacking any semantic fields within her speech. This can be explained by the fact that she frequently changes the topic in the conversation and thus disallowing any attempt to analyse whether or not she has a wider semantic field than she shows, although we can say that the words consist of the immediate environment or what used to be there, for example, “Where’s the doll house? ” and she is able to locate certain objects – “Over there”. In comparison, Katharine has a broad semantic field of body parts.
She understands and realises how each body part is connected to each other, for example she knows what comes in between her mouth and the tops of her legs and understands what it is called when the adult signals to that part of the body. However, Katharine’s use of verbs is unrefined. This is evident in the fact that she says “do” – a very basic dynamic verb, instead of saying “draw”. However, it does not help that the adult reinforces the verb “do” by saying it themselves when they could have said “draw.
Similarly, Sophie’s range of verbs in her passive speech is roughly the same; this is shown by the verbs “come” and “go” both of which are still simple. Thus, showing that they are both still in the early stages of acquiring verbs. Phonology In terms of phonology, it seems that Sophie is more developed in this area. Sophie is able to pronounce complicated consonant combinations at the beginning of words such as “th” (the) despite her deletion of the unstressed syllable in “nother” (another). In contrast, Katharine substitutes the “th” with “d” (“Dere” as opposed to “there”).
Additionally, she mispronounces mouth as “mouf” but this could be due to the English accent. However, Katharine does show signs of progression as there are moments in which she does pronounces them correctly – “He’s at de top of the circle. ” Pragmatics The conversational skills that Katharine has appear to be more socially adept. Her conversations are more smooth, involving of the other person and has no abrupt topic changes; they are more linked, for instance, the topic shift occurs when Katharine shows to the adult that Jason’s leg is touching his mouth, which is linked to the previous topic about drawing the body of Jason.
According to “Halliday’s Language Functions” Katharine’s language can be said to be “Representational”. Evidently in the transcript, Katharine’s conversation consists of conveying facts and information about what she is or is going to do “Now I’ll do Jason” and responses to the adult’s questions such as “Tummy” (Answering). Conversely, Sophie is more demanding and the topic changes initiated by herself are sudden and unlinked to the previous topic; in one topic she talks about “bissies” whilst in the other topic she asks about Mary and Jack.
Also, her language can be said to be to satisfy her physical needs, to tell others what to do, and asking for certain things, thus it is “Instrumental”, “Regulatory” and “Requesting” respectively. Therefore, we can conclude that Katharine is more sophisticated in the art of interaction and communication. Conclusion On the whole, it is clear as to which child is more linguistically sophisticated, however, Katharine is lacking in one area and that is phonetics, the area which Sophie is excelling in.
It is astonishing that the gap between the two children is quite large despite them being roughly the same age. However, quick judgements between them should not be made. The transcript provided is but a brief snapshot of what is a fraction of their lives and therefore it is unjustifiable to make final conclusions as to who will be more refined in their language skills. Furthermore, if a different transcript of these two children is analysed 6 months later it is possible that Sophie has caught up or even surpassed Katharine.
Also, other factors influencing language development must be considered, that is the amount of adult interaction input (as stated earlier) and birth order and also the fact that this is merely a transcript and is unrepresentative of their true speech. The more siblings a child has the more adult interaction has to be shared amongst other siblings and thus less adult input is received, potentially resulting in a possibly slower development in language as opposed to those with no siblings as is the case with Katharine. In other words the quality and quantity of an adult’s input is crucial to the child’s development.