Language is the medium of expression. The development of necessary language skills among people comes in stages. From the time of birth, a child is bound to go through different developmental stages. Language also falls among these schemas since it is a skill, which is acquired right from infancy. Although a child is not able to speak during the first years after birth, the influences, which a child is exposed to determine how one eventually he or she develops. This is why the first language that a child learns is often from the mother. The following discourse will focus on the functions of language between two children who are six year olds. The objective of the discourse is to use Piaget’s propositions in explaining the function of language among the two children who, in this case, are in their early childhood.
In this particular article, Paget attempts to address the question regarding the needs of a child as they talk with their peers. He goes on to note that the question raised is neither linguistic nor logical, but instead it could only be defined using functional psychology. This article was chosen because Piaget is a renowned psychologist who specializes on matters touching on children. The main aim of language is to enable an individual to communicate his or her intentions. One wonders why he chose to discuss the functions of language in children. This is matter of great interest. In the article, he says, “the functional problem therefore exists for adults. How much more urgently will it present itself in the case of defective persons, primitive races, and young children” (D’Heurle & Tash, 2004 p.183). For adults, Piaget notes that an individual’s modes of thought are conveyed using speech.
People employ language different. For instance, people may choose to use it to assert certain type of authority, convey information, and recognize objects. In other instances, language is used to express command or desires, threaten others, and criticize some statements (Takeuchi, 2006). The fundamental question he asks is whether adults use language purely to communicate their thoughts. He observes that internal speech cannot be explained more easily because the person is not audible. His view is that even the most learned, the ones he refers to as the intelligentsia, are often talking to themselves yet no one is able to interpret what they are saying. For imaginary talker, he often presumes that someone listening to them. In the same way, children always will always invoke imaginary playfellows. He terms to this situation as return shock of social habits.
Adults engage in solitary talk to be able to engage in work. To this extent, language is sidetracked from its supposed function of expressing someone’s thoughts, feelings, and intentions. If an individual talks to him or herself, he or she is likely to experience sufficient pleasure and excitement. He observes that language was meant to serve a great purpose other than simply communicating because the phenomenon of verbalism could not be in existence. The reality of the matter is that language serves several functions other than passing out certain message verbally. Pieget observes that language use is more complex for imbeciles, primitive races, and children. From this reasoning, he chose to investigate the reasoning of a child aged six years. He wanted to understand how these children communicate to each other despite the fact that they do not have a developed language code.
The most important aspect of his writing is an inclusion of the views of other psychologists, such as Jane, Freud, Ferenczi, and Spielrein who conducted studies on the language of savage, imbeciles, and children. He discussed the views of M. Janet who was of the view that the earliest words of a child are usually derived from the cries. Janet considered that, “the earliest words are derived from cries with which animals and even savages accompany their actions, threats cries of anger in the fight, etc” (D’Heurle & Tash, 2004 p. 184). This happens to both animals and children, which signifies anger and threats during fights or celebrations. In the older societies, the area chief or elder would produce a sound to notify the people around that there was danger and they needed to prepare for war. This means the first words to be developed were those associated with command. Scholars specializing in psychoanalysis have given examples of the word of magic, which are known to evoke concrete emotional contents of the act.
The love cries are associated with sexual acts and they are the most primitive forms of cries. Mme Spielrein conducted a similar study to establish the behavior of a child during the earliest stages as regards language. In her study, she proved that the baby syllables, mama, are uttered in quite a number of tongues to mean mother. This, according to her findings, is nothing more than a prolongation of the act of sucking. It means that mama is a cry for desire followed by a command. Additionally, the cry of mama has a soothing element as far as it is a continuation of the act of sucking. To this extent, command and satisfaction are rare to distinguish from each other. In fact, one is unable to tell whether the word is being used to mean command or desire for something. This study was similar to that of Meumann and Stern who observed that the earliest substantives of children’s language were different from denoting concepts, but is an expression of command and desire. In their study, they established that primitive child language could perhaps fulfill complex functions as it appears in the first instance.
Another important aspect that the author discusses is the functional application of language for older children. He notes that logic and language are closely related. The aim here is to eliminate a common sense view that children often employ language to pass out their ideas and thoughts. Piaget employs a method that consists of documenting the behaviors of a child for a period one month, particularly what he says throughout this period. The child is given full freedom to engage in activity of their choice, including reading and arithmetic. The child chooses to work either in-group or individually, but the observer does not intervene in any way. In other words, the observation takes place in a natural setting. The child is given room to talk as much as they wish, just as if they are in home since the school setup does not allow them to continue talking the whole day (D’Heurle & Tash, 2004). Studies indicate that children between the ages of five and seven and a half prefer doing things alone rather than in groups.
The last issue that is exciting about the article is the findings of the experiment. The interview to the two children could be categorized into two groups. The first group is egocentric while the other is socialized. Children falling in the first group utter phrases without bothering to know whom he or she is speaking to and again, he or she does not care whether someone is listening. He noted that, “when a child utters phrases belonging to the first group, he does not bother to know to whom he is speaking nor whether he is being listened to (Paiget 188). The aim of the child under this category is simply to pass out information to anyone around. The things that the child speaks about are personal. Unfortunately, the child does not place him or herself in the point of view of others.
Anyone available is considered an audience. The child is not keen on whether people are hearing him or not. Again, he does not bother him or herself to explain the issue clearly, because the aim is not to communicate to specific person. In the socialized speech, the child seeks to exchange information with the rest of the group. He or she tells the hearer what is exciting with the view that it will draw his or her attention. The child is mindful of the hearer and he or she seeks to explain something succinctly. In extreme cases, the child criticizes others or responds to the questions being raised. However, the type of reviews presented is more affective as opposed to intellectual. The child is likely to assert his or her superiority while at the same time depreciating others. A child engaging in this form of speech is considered is likely to develop special skills that would allow him or her to survive in the tough environment. Children develop their speech different. However, most of them tend to rely heavily on the egocentric speech to assert authority.