Re: spoken & written usage

Subject: Re: spoken & written usage
From: Michael Keene <MKEENE -at- UTKVX -dot- UTK -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 1994 16:15:58 -0500

On Fri, 11 Nov 1994, Virginia L. Krenn wrote:

> In one of my Educational Psychology classes (required for a Teaching
> Certificate), we were taught that a child's language pattern is set by
> age of three and that it is, therefore, extremely important to speak
> properly to young children (no babytalk, either). So, if people do want
> use poor grammar in their spoken conversations, I hope that they won't do
> so around youngsters.


This sounds like an early (and wrong) version of the "critical age
hypothesis for language acquisition"--are you sure you got it right? I
used to read and write about this, and I don't remember _anyone_ taking
that strong a stand. That is, in most cultures this "helper speech" (aka
babytalk) phenomenon occurs, and however "set" our language ability is by
the time people stop doing it around us, we seem to recover pretty well.
What you've got here is the strongest imaginable version of a
hypothesis which even in its weak versions is at least questionable.
Maybe someone else out there knows the right of this?

Mike Keene
mkeene -at- utkvx -dot- utk -dot- edu

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