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Midterm 2 Review
COGS 156
Information on language disorders and individual differences will appear on the
final, not on Midterm 2.
UPDATE: questions from Mayberry lecture. (See uploaded Mayberry paper.)
What are some similarities between spoken vs signed language acquisition? What
are some differences?
Which sign language results indicate a critical period for language? (Think about
both cognitive findings and brain findings!)
What does it mean that words are arbitrary?
What does it mean that words are symbolic?
Outline two major ideas about mental representations of concepts (i.e., what’s contained
in the representations).
List and be able to describe various ways in which kids may connect words and
concepts to each other. Be familiar with details of experiments which tested these
What are some proposed biases or constraints on how kids learn word meaning?
What are overextension and underextension? What are some reasons kids might
over/underextend even if they know better?
What is the vocabulary spurt? Why might it occur?
Explain Clark’s three principles of word invention (lexical innovation) by children.
Explain the parental role in word learning with respect to labeling and category structure.
What is syntax?
What is “d-structure” and “s-structure”? Is it possible for two sentences to have the same
d-structure but different s-structures? The same s-structure but different d-structures?
What is morphology? What are the two major types of morphology? Which one is more
related to syntax?
What are two sources of naturalistic observation that researchers might use to study
Define Mean Length of Utterance (MLU) as described by Roger Brown.
Calcualate the MLU of each of these:
Dog run
My dog
My dogs runned
What phenomenon is going on in the last one?
What is 2-word speech? According to Bloom, what kinds of semantic relations do
children try to convey in 2-word speech?
Describe Berko’s “wug test.” What does it demonstrate?
Does children’s syntactic comprehension correlate to their syntactic production? Explain.
How do kids use word order to tell who does what to whom? How does this relate to their
comprehension of passive sentences (such as “Bill was killed by John”)? What types of
passive sentences are easier for kids to understand, and why?
What is a garden-path sentence?
Think about the “Put the apple on the towel in the box” study. What do adults (vs.
children) do when there are two apples present? Why might these age groups perform
differently, and what does it suggest about syntactic processing?
What is communicative competence? What are some reasons why it might be hard to
acquire relative to syntactic or phonological competence?
Explain two different theories about the factors involved in communicative competence
(speech act theory and cognitive developmental theory).
Contrast direct and indirect requests. Do children understand indirect requests? What
does this say about children’s sensitivity to syntax? What factors are kids are aware of
when they are taking/making requests?
What are some important conversational skills kids need to acquire, and what do they
What is social register?
How does language vary across different situations and different people? Be able to
describe evidence that children are sensitive to such variations.
How do parents help children gain communicative competence?