Mechanisms of Language Acquisition

Mechanisms of Language Acquisition

Mechanisms of Language Acquisition

Mechanisms of Language Acquisition

Excerpt

Three decades of intensive study of language development have led to an enormous accumulation of descriptive data. But there is still no over-arching theory of language development that can make orderly sense of this huge stockpile of observations. Grand structuralist theories such as those of Chomsky, Jakobson, and Piaget have kept researchers asking the right questions, but they seldom allow us to make detailed experimental predictions or to formulate detailed accounts. The papers collected in this volume attempt to address this gap between data and theory by formulating a series of mechanistic accounts of the acquisition of language.

In organizing the conference, it was my goal to invite representatives of all major approaches to language acquisition. Unfortunately, there were two areas that could not be included: the study of speech development in infancy and the detailed study of the impact of interaction with parents and siblings on language development. Despite these omissions, we did succeed in assembling an excellent group of speakers representing a great diversity of theoretical positions. Given this diversity, it was quite surprising to find out that virtually all of the speakers agreed on three major and important issues.

First, all of the papers in the volume assign a major role to mechanism as an . . .

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