Theoretical Issues in Language Acquisition: Continuity and Change in Development

Theoretical Issues in Language Acquisition: Continuity and Change in Development

Theoretical Issues in Language Acquisition: Continuity and Change in Development

Theoretical Issues in Language Acquisition: Continuity and Change in Development

Synopsis

In recent linguistic theory, there has been an explosion of detailed studies of language variation. This volume applies such recent analyses to the study of child language, developing new approaches to change and variation in child grammars and revealing both early knowledge in several areas of grammar and a period of extended development in others. Topics dealt with include question formation, "subjectless" sentences, object gaps, rules for missing subject interpretation, passive sentences, rules for pronoun interpretation and argument structure. Leading developmental linguists and psycholinguists show how linguistic theory can help define and inform a theory of the dynamics of language development and its biological basis, meeting the growing need for such studies in programs in linguistics, psychology, and cognitive science.

Excerpt

A central aim of the study of language acquisition is to explain the development of the child's linguistic knowledge over time. In recent linguistic theory, there has been an explosion of detailed studies of language variation. "Parameter theory" has thrown new light on both fundamental differences (such as those distinguishing languages as different as English and Chinese) and on subtle variations between genetically related and/or similar languages (e.g., variations that characterize differences in the grammars of French and Italian). The studies described in this book apply such recent analyses to the study of child language, using the theory to develop new approaches to change and variation in child grammars. The studies reveal both early knowledge in several areas of grammar and a period of extended development in other areas. Topics dealt with in the book include question formation, 'subjectless' sentences, object gaps, rules for missing subject interpretation, passive sentences, rules for pronoun interpretation, and argument structure. The chapters in the book show how linguistic theory can help define and inform a theory of the dynamics of language development and its biological basis, meeting the growing need for such studies in programs in linguistics, psychology, and cognitive science.

This book contains in-depth studies of the source of errors and the mechanisms of change in the child grammar. Chapters by Clahsen and by Felix take radically different positions ("continuity" vs "maturation") concerning the source of errors in, for example, the interpretation of pronouns by children. Randall's chapter details mechanisms for the attainment of adult knowledge of verbal argument structure.

The book contains much new data and many new analyses. The chapter . . .

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