The Development of Language and Language Researchers: Essays in Honor of Roger Brown

The Development of Language and Language Researchers: Essays in Honor of Roger Brown

The Development of Language and Language Researchers: Essays in Honor of Roger Brown

The Development of Language and Language Researchers: Essays in Honor of Roger Brown

Excerpt

Why does the writing make us chase the writer? Why can't we leave well alone? Why aren't the books enough? Flaubert wanted them to be: few writers believed more in the objectivity of the written text and the insignificance of the writer's personality; yet still we disobediently pursue.

--Julian Barnes (Flaubert's Parrot)

Disobedient pursuit of the writer-on-language-development provided the proximate beginnings of this celebratory collection, a pursuit that was itself launched during a dinner that took place, in the Spring of 1980, in the elegant dining room of a particular Boston hotel with Parisian parentage. Somewhere between the entrée and dessert I turned to my generous-hearted host and said, "You know, SRCD is in Boston next year. Wouldn't it be great to gather some members of the Harvard language-acquisition group and get them to think about how their ideas originally took shape and have since developed?" To which my host gently replied, "Yes . . . that's a fine idea . . . I'll even be pleased to come and listen from the back of the room." Which wasn't altogether the answer I had hoped for.

Thus began a lengthy tale, during the first phase of which this ever-gentle refusal to participate in any way in the projected gathering remained rock-steady, as firm, in fact, as my conviction that a 1981 Boston meeting on language acquisition without Roger Brown would be akin to a gathering to herald the joys of Rigoletto and La Traviata held in Milan in 1881 without Giuseppe Verdi! Strengthened in such a conviction by inside-members-of-the-Harvard-group now party to the plot, I-the-outsider persisted; and we, having engaged in rather devious and disobedient pursuit over many months, prevailed. Thus, when the . . .

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