Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology


SPPA 139 Normal Speech and Language Development

 Fall 2004

Steven H. Long, Ph.D.


Project 1


Create a list of the first 50 words produced by an imaginary child. For each word specify its range of reference or context of usage, categorize it in terms of its proto-grammatical function (Nelson, 1973; Table 8.4 in Owens), categorize it in terms of its speech act function (Dore, 1974; Table 8.1 in Owens), and describe its relationship to the adult lexicon (overextension, underextension, overlap, mismatch, or match). Each of these five adult-child meaning relationships should occur at least twice on your list. Also, the proportion of words in each proto-grammatical category should closely approximate the percentages reported by Nelson (1973; Table 8.4 in Owens).


The project is due on Wednesday, September 22, in class. A partial example is shown below. Note the following:


·         in some instances, more than one speech act function may be identified, depending on the context in which the child uses the word

·         one or more of the "words" in your list may be a phrase that the child has learned as a whole

·         your description of the child's context of usage must be sufficiently specific as to justify your categorization of the word's proto-grammatical, pragmatic, and semantic status




Context of Usage

Proto-Grammatical Function

Speech Act

Relationship to Adult Lexicon

1.   “thank you”

uttered after each exchange when sharing food with adult


Repeating or practicing


2.   spoon

name produced spontaneously for all utensils

general nominal



3.   Wally

spontaneously naming family dog or identifying him in response to question

specific nominal

Labeling or Answering


4.   ‘nother

requesting repetition of action


Requesting action


5.   balloon

name used for all round balls and fruit but not used to label balloons, regardless of their shape

general nominal