Child Language Acquisition: Contrasting Theoretical Approaches

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-04-18
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Is children's language acquisition based on innate linguistic structures or built from cognitive and communicative skills? This book summarises the major theoretical debates in all of the core domains of child language acquisition research (phonology, word-learning, inflectional morphology, syntax and binding) and includes a complete introduction to the two major contrasting theoretical approaches: generativist and constructivist. For each debate, the predictions of the competing accounts are closely and even-handedly evaluated against the empirical data. The result is an evidence-based review of the central issues in language acquisition research that will constitute a valuable resource for students, teachers, course-builders and researchers alike.

Author Biography

Ben Ambridge is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Liverpool. He has published numerous articles on child language acquisition with a particular focus on the acquisition of syntax and morphology and the retreat from overgeneralization error. Elena V. M. Lieven is a Professor and Senior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, and the Director of the Max Planck Child Study Centre, University of Manchester. She is best known for her work on naturalistic corpus data, and is a former editor of the Journal of Child Language.

Table of Contents

List of figuresp. vii
List of tablesp. x
List of boxesp. xi
List of summary tablesp. xii
Prefacep. xiii
Acknowledgementsp. xv
Introductionp. 1
The major theoretical approachesp. 1
The domains and debatesp. 4
Methodologiesp. 6
Speech perception, segmentation and productionp. 13
Introductionp. 13
Characteristics of speechp. 14
Developing a phonemic inventoryp. 18
Segmenting the speech stream into words, phrases and clausesp. 31
Speech productionp. 47
Speech perception, segmentation and production: conclusionp. 57
Learning word meaningsp. 61
Introductionp. 61
The constraints or 'principles' approachp. 62
The social-pragmatic approachp. 70
The associative learning approachp. 83
Syntactic bootstrappingp. 89
Conclusion: how do children learn the meanings of words?p. 100
Theoretical approaches to grammar acquisitionp. 103
Generativist approachesp. 103
Constructivist approachesp. 123
Theoretical approaches to grammar acquisition: conclusionp. 136
Inflectionp. 137
Introduction to inflectionp. 137
Why do children fail to mark tense and agreement in obligatory contexts?p. 144
Are children less productive with morphology than adults?p. 157
Rules versus analogies in inflectional morphology (with special reference to the English past-tense debate)p. 169
Learning inflectional morphology: conclusionp. 187
Simple syntaxp. 191
Identifying/constructing syntactic categoriesp. 192
Acquiring basic word orderp. 209
The retreat from overgeneralization errorp. 242
Simple syntax: conclusionp. 265
Movement and complex syntaxp. 269
Non-canonical word orders (passives and questions)p. 269
Multiple-clause sentencesp. 289
Movement and complex syntax: conclusionp. 312
Binding, quantification and controlp. 314
Binding and coreferencep. 315
Quantificationp. 335
Controlp. 346
Binding, quantification and control: conclusionp. 357
Related debates and conclusionsp. 359
Related debatesp. 359
Conclusions and future directionsp. 369
Notesp. 377
Referencesp. 387
Author indexp. 427
Subject indexp. 432
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