Abstract - Sabine Stoll

Course: Language Acquisition from a Typological Perspective

Instructor: Sabine Stoll

How do children learn language? Human languages vary on all linguistic levels . We know that children can learn any language spoken in their social environment but it is a great puzzle how they do that given the extreme diversity of these systems. A main focus of this course is the question of whether language specific features influence the acquisition processes. To understand the challenges involved in explaining language acquisition I will give an overview of the most important research results from typologically diverse languages. A main focus will be on data and methods and their potential implications for our understanding of the acquisition process.

Sabine StollSabine Stoll is Head of Psycholinguistics Laboratory, Institute of Comparative Linguistics at the University of Zurich.

Monday November 27th: Key questions in acquisition research. What is the role of variation?

Suggested readings:

Küntay, Aylin C. 2012. Crosslinguistic research. In Erika Hoff (ed.), Research methods in child language: a practical guide, 285–299. Wiley Online Library.

Stoll, Sabine. 2016. Studying language acquisition in different linguistic and cultural settings. In Nancy Bonvillain (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Anthropology, 140–158. New York: Routledge.

Tuesday November 28th: Data in language acquisition research (experiments vs. naturalistic studies). Sampling issues and consequences for conclusions about the acquisition process

Suggested readings:

Ambridge, Ben & Caroline F. Rowland. 2013. Experimental methods in studying child language acquisition. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science 4(2). 149–168.

Stoll, Sabine & Balthasar Bickel. 2013. Capturing diversity in language acquisition research. In Balthasar Bickel, Lenore A. Grenoble, David A. Peterson & Alan Timberlake (eds.), Language typology and historical contingency: studies in honor of Johanna Nichols, 195–260. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Tomasello, Michael & Daniel Stahl. 2004. Sampling children’s spontaneous speech: how much is enough? Journal of Child Language 31. 101–121.

Thursday November 30th: Role of the input in language acquisition and consequences for learning

Suggested readings:

Werker, Janet F & Richard C Tees. 2002. Cross-language speech perception: Evidence for perceptual reorganization during the first year of life. Infant Behavior and Development 25(1). 121–133.

Hay, Jessica F, Bruna Pelucchi, Katharine Graf Estes & Jenny R Saffran. 2011. Linking sounds to meanings: infant statistical learning in a natural language. Cognitive Psychology 63(2). 93–106.

Stumper, Barbara, Colin Bannard, Elena Lieven & Michael Tomasello. 2011. “Frequent frames” in German child-directed speech: a limited cue to grammatical categories. Cognitive Science 35(6). 1190–1205.

Stoll, Sabine, Kirsten Abbot-Smith & Elena Lieven. 2009. Lexically restricted utterances in Russian, German and English child-directed speech. Cognitive Science 33. 75–103.

Friday December 1st: Early word learning: nouns vs. verbs

Suggested readings:

Willits, Jon A, Mark S Seidenberg & Jenny R Saffran. 2014. Distributional structure in language: Contributions to noun–verb difficulty differences in infant word recognition. Cognition 132(3). 429–436.

Stoll, Sabine, Balthasar Bickel, Elena Lieven, Goma Banjade, Toya Nath Bhatta, Martin Gaenszle, Netra P. Paudyal, Judith Pettigrew, Ichchha P. Rai, Manoj Rai & Novel Kishore Rai. 2011. Nouns and verbs in Chintang: children’s usage and surrounding adult speech. Journal of Child Language 39. 284–321.

Waxman, Sandra, Xiaolan Fu, Sudha Arunachalam, Erin Leddon, Kathleen Geraghty & Hyun-joo Song. 2013. Are nouns learned before verbs? Infants provide insight into a long-standing debate. Child Development Perspectives 7(3). 155–159.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University

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