College of Arts and Law
School of English, Drama, American and Canadian Studies
Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics
Development, Discourse, Diversity
Assessment 1: 500 Words
Deadline: Friday 31st October
The deadline for submission of this assignment is 5pm on Friday 31st October 2014
You must submit your assignment in hard copy to staff of the English Language and Applied Linguistics Office by this deadline. Before handing in your paper copy, you must submit your assignment through the Turnitin system. The procedure for submitting through Turnitin is fully explained in the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics Undergraduate Handbook which is on Canvas.
You must not repeat material submitted for the assessment of other modules.
Your work should conform to the Rules and Guidance for Written Work, which is in section 14 of the handbook.
Development, Discourse, Diversity
Formative Assignment (FA2)
Part of your summative assignment for this module involves a consideration of some technical linguistic terminology. This formative assignment is an opportunity for you to produce, and receive feedback on, a piece of writing in the style expected for formal writing in English language at university. This means that you should pay attention to the style guide and familiarise yourself with the expectations about citing and referencing the sources you use and other aspects of the presentation of your text, as well as making sure you organise your material clearly and coherently.
Imagine that you are writing an entry for a new Glossary of Terms for people studying and/or teaching about English Language. This book must be original, and so cannot plagiarise from existing texts, but the entries will draw on sources that are already published. Its USP (‘unique selling point’) is that all the entries are illustrated with authentic examples contributed by the authors of each entry.
You have a maximum of 500 words in which to explain, in this context, ONE of the following terms: EITHER ‘language acquisition device’ OR ‘instrumental function’.
Consult relevant source material (textbooks, specialist dictionaries of terms, notes from lectures and seminars etc.) and explain in your own words what the term means, giving as much detail and exemplification as you feel is necessary to demonstrate your understanding. Highlight and comment on any differences you find in the different explanations given. Then, drawing on material provided during the module so far, as well as observational examples from your Language Awareness Journal, try to explain how an understanding of the concept denoted by the term either helps to explain commonsense beliefs or everyday linguistic behaviour, or how it extends or challenges these.
Overleaf you can read a ‘worked example’ of how I might have approached this task, if the term chosen had been ‘holophrase’. Of course I have quite a bit more experience of writing than you do, and you are not expected to follow slavishly the format I have used. The example is simply to illustrate how you might demonstrate your familiarity with some relevant reading, your own understanding of the concepts, and your ability to relate these to some empirical examples.
This assignment should be completed by October 30th and handed to your tutor by Seminar 5(b) at the latest. You should also submit an electronic version using the ‘Turnitin’ link on Canvas.
Name Esther Asprey
Definition: This term is used in descriptions of the language produced by young children who are learning to talk. It refers to the way children at the age of about 18 months to two years frequently make use of a single word to convey a complete idea. Bloomer et al. (2005, pp. 316-7) use the example of a girl of 22½ months repeatedly saying simply ‘door’ to direct an adult to perform actions such as unscrewing the nuts on a toy. Crystal (1991, p. 166) defines the term as ‘a grammatically unstructured utterance, usually consisting of a single word, which is characteristic of the earliest stage of language learning in children.’ His illustrations (e.g. allgone) demonstrate that the holophrase can sometimes consist of more than one word treated as a single unit of meaning.
Discussion: It is easy to think of human speech as consisting of individual words strung together by grammar, but this stage of children’s language learning invites us to consider more carefully what a ‘word’ actually is. It also raises other more general issues about how we learn language and even about what language itself really is.
Crystal (1991, p. 166) discusses the idea that holophrases could be thought of as sentences, since children use them when they are seeking to communicate whole ‘messages’. Mullany and Stockwell (2010, p. 25) observe that, ‘The single-word utterances do at least count as language production, as the child gradually realises that certain words in the right context produce desired effects.’ These comments are consistent with Halliday’s claims (1975) about children’s uses of language for a range of social functions, learned in communicative situations and gradually developed to be more like adult speech with a full range of grammatical structures and adaptability, which the holophrase does not have.
Examples: To illustrate the idea of the holophrase from personal experience: one child I know says ‘doot’ as a way of expressing that he’s thirsty and wants his juice. The ways in which children manage to make a single word do the work of communicating an entire thought can show how their awareness of the resources of intonation is developing alongside their vocabulary. Thus the same holophrase can express many ideas. A colleague with a young child reports that her 11-month-old daughter uses the word ‘Mummy’ like this. Sometimes she uses it as though to declare, ‘There is Mummy.’ She can also use it as a question. For example, when she says it as she hears a car door shutting just outside the house, it seems to mean ‘Is that Mummy?’ When my friend walks through the door, her daughter is likely to use Mummy as an imperative, as though to say, ‘Mummy, I want you to pick me up now.’ So this one word, or holophrase, is substituted, in this child’s utterances, for a declarative sentence, an interrogative sentence, and an imperative.
Bloomer, A., Griffiths, P. and Merrison, A.J. (2005) Introducing Language in Use: A Coursebook. Abingdon: Routledge.
Crystal, D. (1991) A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. Oxford: Blackwell.
Halliday, M.A.K. (1975) Learning How to Mean: Explorations in the Development of Language. London: Edward Arnold.
Mullany, L. and Stockwell, P. (2010) Introducing English Language: A Resource Book for Students. London: Routledge.
 Canvas page: Department of English – General / Undergraduate Information / English Language – Referencing-for-Language