Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 7 July 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.



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Maternal Interaction and Verbal Input in
Normal and Hearing Impaired Children

Ravikumar, M.Sc., Haripriya, G., M.Sc., and Shyamala, K. C., Ph.D.


Maternal interaction represents the modified language spoken by the mothers to their young children. The present study aimed at studying the maternal interaction and verbal input in normal hearing and hearing impaired children.

Ten normal hearing children with ten linguistically matched hearing impaired children and their mothers participated in the study.

The mother-child interaction was audio recorded during a play context. A ten-minute sample was transcribed for each mother-child interaction.

The results indicated that the communicative functions of the mothers of the two groups varied significantly within groups. However, on comparison, the two groups showed no statistically significant difference. The findings of this study indicated occurrence of different communicative functions implying on the nature of intervention necessary for the hearing-impaired children. Parents play a primary role in teaching language to their young hearing-impaired children. The process, which appears to be constantly evolving, is one in which a change in the communication habits of one partner (i.e. child) dramatically affects the communication habits of the other (i.e. mother). This pattern may be influenced and changed for the better, throughout language intervention.


One of the greatest accomplishments of infancy and early childhood is the acquisition of conventional communication and linguistic competence. Early social interaction provides the vehicle through which the child acquires the linguistic structures, the semantic content and the social uses of languages. Thus, the nature of everyday interactions between the mother and the child is of vital interest and importance to those who wish to understand the nature of early language development. It has been well established that there are systematic differences between verbal output to children and among their mothers. When mothers speak to infants/young children, they tend to modify their style of verbal output which has been termed as 'motherese'. Mother's verbal output to children has been found to contain modifications in suprasegmental, phonological, syntactic, semantic and interactional features.

Maternal interaction (MI) is much simpler in its structure and contains short formed-utterances, fewer complex sentences, is highly redundant and consistent; is much more closely tied to the immediate context, and employs a number of special discourse features. This modification of mother's/other's verbal output is reported to aid the child's language learning process, although the exact relationship between maternal interaction and the child's acquisition of language is much less straight forward. Different aspects of MI have been investigated in normal children and hearing impaired children:

Phonological aspects of MI

a) Cruttenden (1994) reported that recurrent consonantal substitutions, Consonantal clusters (e.g. drink' [dinki], Consonant harmony applied between consonants across an intervening vowel (e.g. dog '[dogi] and reduplication and a simple consonant vowel type of syllable structure predominates in the phonological aspects of the MI.

Semantic aspects of MI

Blount (1972) reported more limited vocabulary use and low type token ratios for vocabulary but with unique words for objects and many diminutives.

Syntactic aspects of MI

Newport (1975) and Cross (1977) have reported shorter mean length of utterance in adult- to-child verbal input. The verbal input of a mother to an eighteen month old has a shorter MLU, with more single names and phrases. Newport (1975) studied the verbal input of fifteen mothers to their children and found the incidence of ungrammatical errors to be only one in 1,500 utterances. The sentences uttered are transformationally less complex with fewer verbs per utterance, fewer coordinate or sub-ordinate clauses, and fewer embeddings. Newport (1975) reported that maternal interaction contains more content words and fewer function words with rarity of modifiers and pronouns. He also reported that deletion of subject nouns or pronouns and auxiliary in yes-no questions. Cross (1977); Newport, Gleitman & Gleitman (1977) supported diversity in adjusting language input to children's presumed levels of understanding.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

EAT Expressions in Manipuri | Learning from Movies - 'Slumdog Millionaire' and Language Awareness | Maternal Interaction and Verbal Input in Normal and Hearing Impaired Children | Role of L2 Motivation and the Performance of Intermediate Students in the English (L2) Exams in Pakistan | Problems in Ph.D. English Degree Programme in Pakistan - The Issue of Quality Assurance | Using Technology in the English Language Classroom | Teaching Literature through Language - Some Considerations | e-Learning of Japanese Pictography - Some Perspectives | Is It a Language Worth Researching? Ethnographic Challenges in the Study of Pahari Language | Using a Reading Material for Interactive Reading | Importance of Task-Based Teaching in Second Language Acquisition - A Review | Skill Enhancement Techniques - The Necessary Tools for the Indian Management Students | African American Literature and Ishmael Reed's Novels - Hoodism | Instances of Code Switching in Indian Television Serials | The Role of Compounding in Technical English Prescribed for Engineering Students in Tamilnadu | Polite Request Strategies as Produced by Yemeni EFL Learners | Manju Kapoor's Difficult Daughters - A Saga of Feminist Autonomy and Separate Identity | Reflections on Partition Literature - A Comparative Analysis of Ice Candy Man and Train to Pakistan | Mother Tongue! The Neglected Resource for English Language Teaching And Learning | Breaking the Good Mother Myths - A Study of the Novels of Amy Tan | Effect of Teachers' Academic Qualification on Students' L2 Performance at the Secondary Level | What Is Most Important? Fluency or Accuracy? Is Learning a Second Language a Conscious Process? | Let Us Learn from Our Standard 1 Textbook, Again! - A Brief Note on the New Standard 1 Tamil Textbook in Tamilnadu | Eugene O' Neill's The Hairy Ape - An American Expressionistic Play | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF JULY 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of July 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Ravi Kumar, M.Sc. (Speech and Hearing)

Haripriya, G.V., M.Sc. (Speech and Hearing)

Shyamala, K. Chengappa, Ph.D.

All India Institute of Speech & Hearing
Mysore - 570006
Karnataka, India

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