Saturday, December 16

The One – Word or Holophrastic Stage

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            It is simply amazing to know and learn how a child acquires the development of language.  For parents to watch their child progressing to one word to a two-word sentence is a moment to be captured on video. One of the earliest stages of grammatical growth is the holophrastic stage. 

            Holophrastic is derived from the Greek word, holophrase. Holophrastic stage is the language period in a child’s life, in which the child communicates using a combination of one or two words to express a sentence.   This term is categorized in the child language acquisition study of a short phrase that does not have any syntactic structure: mama, all gone, or doggie according to The Oxford Companion tothe English Language (481).   Most children from 12 to 18 months go through this stage. As well holophrases are known as fixed-phrases which consist of adjectives and nouns.

A child first learns his native language through listening to his/her caretaker. The parent is the most influential role on a child’s language development. According to Susan Leitch, the author of A Child Learns to Speak, a parent is the speech and language model in the child’s environment, and can change her speech in ways that help the child to learn language. One can do this by repeating words or phrases, pointing or using other gestures when she is talking, or speaking more slowly. All of these things are helpful for children learning language. According to the writer, Marie Clay, language begins for a child when the child is being talked to in the first days of life and throughout the first year.

Leitch includes that noisy environment increases the difficulty of the language-learning task because it is harder for a child to pick out the primary main sounds in words. However, a child will benefit from the time a parent sets aside for talking and playing with him, time free from other distracting noises or activities. 

Therefore, the number of holophrastic words the child can say depends on the parent. The word choices and phrases that are used by the child come from the parent’s language. That is why it is very crucial that a child interacts daily with his parents during language development.  As well, “the way in which [adults]respond to children’s talk determines whether they will continue their efforts or not.” This means parents need to encourage a child to go on talking so that he/she would want to say more.

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