Language Change in Child and Adult Hebrew: A Psycholinguistic Perspective

Language Change in Child and Adult Hebrew: A Psycholinguistic Perspective

Language Change in Child and Adult Hebrew: A Psycholinguistic Perspective

Language Change in Child and Adult Hebrew: A Psycholinguistic Perspective

Synopsis

The study of language acquisition has taken on new meaning in the last decade. Now seen as part of the study of other forms of language variation across time and space, such as dialects and sociolects, and the study of pidgins and Creoles, it can help to provide a new understanding of how language evolves and what directs its development. Dorit Ravid here provides a study of contemporary speakers of Hebrew, focusing in particular on inflectional morphology. She traces language development from childhood to adulthood in Hebrew speakers, and explores strategies of language acquisition and language processing leading to variation in the spoken Hebrew of speakers of different ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Excerpt

The study of language acquisition has taken on a new meaning in the last decade. When seen as part of the study of other forms of language variation across time and space, such as dialects and sociolects, as well as the study of pidgins and creoles, it provides us with a new understanding of how language evolves and what directs its development.

My study was undertaken With a view to conduct precisely such inter- disciplinary research, focusing in particular on inflectional morphology. Its purpose is to trace language development from childhood to adulthood, to explore strategies of language acquisition, and to characterize variation in the spoken Hebrew of speakers of different ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. the study thus touches on various interrelated issues: It raises general questions in developmental psycholinguistics as well as themes specific to the acquisition of Hebrew. and it relates to the development of Modern Hebrew as an ancient tongue recently revived and now undergoing accelerated processes of change.

Sources of Variation in Contemporary Hebrew

Contemporary Hebrew is a language with a unique history. a Semitic language with ancient roots and one of the longest written records known to us, it lay dormant, though not dead, for more than 1500 years, its speakers dispersed throughout the world (Rabin 1972). Hebrew ceased to be generally spoken around A.D. 200 due to extralinguistic historical cir-

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