A pilot study of the speech of a three year old child

This paper is an analysis of utterances produced by a three year old child in two contrastive settings and recorded on cassette tape. It is stated that in order for a child's innate language learning capacity to be activated there are some basic requirements: a supply of linguistic data, a mechanism by which new data may be tested and new rules formulated, and a device which stores those rules until the child is ready to use them. It is further stated that the utterances of the corpus can be divided into three functional categories with distinctive linguistic characteristics: Mimicry, Sound and Phrase Patterning, and Sentence Production. Sentence Production refers to well-formed sentences, described according to Chomsky's model and assumed to be representative of the child's own linguistic creativeness. Mimicry utterances, differing in syntax and lexicon from the utterances in Sentence Production, are analysed as evidence of a linguistic repository. Sound and Phrase Patterning, occurring in series of patterns similar to language learning drills, refers to utterances which can be considered as evidence of a mechanism by which new language forms are tested and additional rules of the language are formulated.