The Foundations of Psychiatry

By Silvano Arieti | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16

EARLY LANGUAGE
DEVELOPMENT

Katrina de Hirsch


Introduction

FREUD29 SAID THAT LANGUAGE brings into being a higher psychical organization. This chapter discusses some aspects of language acquisition, a process that is part and parcel of the young child's organismic growth.

The linguistic development of the child, according to Lewis,50 is determined by the interaction of many factors: those that spring from within himself, those that derive from the interplay between him and his mother, and those that impinge upon him from the particular culture to which he belongs.

Consequently there are several ways of looking at language acquisition, each concerned with different aspects of verbal development.

The potential for language is laid down in the central nervous system. Thus one focus of interest is upon the biological and neurophysiological factors that make possible the development of language and its specific human characteristics: the ability to symbolize.

Another focus of interest is concerned with the affective aspect of communication, which develops in the matrix of the mother-child relationship. The role of language in the formation of the ego is related to this inquiry. It is by no means clear, according to Edelheit,22 to what extent ego organization is reflected in the language system and to what extent the internalized language system constitutes the regulatory function of the ego.

An equally legitimate concern is the socio‐ cultural determinants of language. As a result of the growing awareness of deprived children's linguistic and learning difficulties, which are closely related, this aspect is, at present, very much in the foreground.

A relatively new type of investigation is being undertaken by those linguists who investigate the developmental facets of the

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