Social Interaction, Social Context, and Language: Essays in Honor of Susan Ervin-Tripp

By Dan Isaac Slobin; Julie Gerhardt et al. | Go to book overview

In suggesting a need to address input in an alternative way, I nevertheless should point out that such a stance should be integrated into previous approaches, rather than to their exclusion. I am convinced by the mounting evidence that children are actively involved in the construction of language. For instance, although adults have been noted to use particular linguistic devices globally, children do not passively make use of such functions. Crosslinguistic studies have highlighted the extent to which children reinterpret such forms in more local ways ( Bamberg, 1987; Berman & Slobin, 1994; Kyratzis & Ervin-Tripp, 1993). And my own work reviewed above has highlighted ways in which children's use does differ from that of adult speakers of a given language.

Likewise, acquisition work that has examined children's form-function patterning with special attention to typological contrasts has highlighted that children can and do adopt form-function patterns found in the input they hear. For instance, a series of studies have shown ways in which Korean and American children are willing to distinctly make use of spatial prepositions, with each group of children looking like adult speakers from the start (for instance Bowerman, 1985; Choi & Bowerman, 1991).

The central revision, though, that I am suggesting is one of carefully attending to the actual form-function patterns available to children in the speech around them. Only with such information in hand will we begin to piece together the complex array of factors that influence children to construct language as they do.


REFERENCES

Bamberg, M. ( 1987). The acquisition of narratives: Learning to use language. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Bamberg, M., Budwig, N., & Kaplan, B. ( 1991). "A developmental approach to language acquisition: Two case studies". First Language, 11, 121-141.

Berman, R., & Slobin, D. I. ( 1994). Different ways qf relating events in narratives: A crosslinguistic developmental study. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bloom, L. ( 1991). Language development from two to three. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Bowerman, M. ( 1985). "What shapes children's grammars?" In D. I. Slobin (Ed.), The crosslinguistic study of language acquisition: Vol. 2: Theoretical issues (pp. 1257- 1319). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Budwig, N. ( 1986). Agentivity and control in early child language. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.

Budwig, N. ( 1989). "The linguistic marking of agentivity and control in child language". Journal of Child Language, 16, 263-284.

Budwig, N. ( 1990). "A functional approach to the acquisition of personal pronouns". In G. Conti- Ramsden & C. Snow (Eds.), Children's language: Vol. 7 (pp. 121-145). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Budwig, N. ( 1993). "Perspectives on the grammar-discourse connection in child language: 25 years at the Stanford Child Language Research Forum". In E. V. Clark (Ed.), The proceedings of the twentyfifth annual Child Language Research Forum (pp. 207-306). Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information.

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