In 1968 Margaret K. Omar (Nydell) spent four months in a small Egyptian village called Sheikh Mubarak. Located in Middle Egypt near Al-Minya, residents of Sheik Mubarak speak in a dialect closer to Sa'eedi, not the dialect spoken in Cairo. Omar spent time there conducting interviews, examinations, and taping sessions with children and families to study primary language acquisition in non-Western languages.
Based on her fieldwork, Omar describes the physical and social environment in which the native language was learned, the development of early communication and speech, and when and how children learn the phonology, vocabulary, morphology, and syntactical patterns of Egyptian Arabic. Omar makes comparisons with aspects of language acquisition of other languages, primarily English, and explores implications for the theory of language acquisition.
Originally published in 1973, this book is the most thorough and complete analysis of the stages in which children learn Arabic as a first language. The Arabic in this book is presented in transcription, making the information accessible to all linguists interested in language acquisition.
Drawing on the latest research on development among toddlers and preschoolers, At a Loss for Words lays out the importance of getting parents, policy makers, and child care providers to recognize the role of early literacy skills in reducing the achievement gap that begins before three years of age. Readers are guided through home and classroom settings that promote language, contrasting them with the "merely mediocre" child care settings in which more and more young children spend increasing amounts of time. Too many of our young children are not receiving the level of input and practice that will enable them to acquire language skills—the key to success in school and life. Bardige explains how to build better community support systems for children, and better public education, in order to ensure that toddlers learn the power of language from their families and teachers.
The Mayan family of languages is ancient and unique. With their distinctive relational nouns, positionals, and complex grammatical voices, they are quite alien to English and have never been shown to be genetically related to other New World tongues. These qualities, Clifton Pye shows, afford a particular opportunity for linguistic insight. Both an overview of lessons Pye has gleaned from more than thirty years of studying how children learn Mayan languages as well as a strong case for a novel method of researching crosslinguistic language acquisition more broadly, this book demonstrates the value of a close, granular analysis of a small language lineage for untangling the complexities of first language acquisition.
Pye here applies the comparative method to three Mayan languages—K’iche’, Mam, and Ch’ol—showing how differences in the use of verbs are connected to differences in the subject markers and pronouns used by children and adults. His holistic approach allows him to observe how small differences between the languages lead to significant differences in the structure of the children’s lexicon and grammar, and to learn why that is so. More than this, he expects that such careful scrutiny of related languages’ variable solutions to specific problems will yield new insights into how children acquire complex grammars. Studying such an array of related languages, he argues, is a necessary condition for understanding how any particular language is used; studying languages in isolation, comparing them only to one’s native tongue, is merely collecting linguistic curiosities.
The Acquisition of Constructions is the culmination of new research into constructions of grammar in languages as diverse as Cantonese, English, French, German, Mandarin, Thai, and Tzeltal. The contributors, all noted scholars in the field of construction grammar, investigate the acquisition of constructions—that is, the consistent patterns for combining words and phrases within a language—in children, from the first and most rudimentary gesture combinations to the production of larger syntactic constructions and complex clauses. Timely and comprehensive, it will be a superb resource for scholars of syntax.
In 21 essays on communicative gesturing in the first two years of life, this vital collection demonstrates the importance of gesture in a child’s transition to a linguistic system. Introductions preceding each section emphasize the parallels between the findings in these studies and the general body of scholarship devoted to the process of spoken language acquisition.
Renowned scholars contributing to this volume include Ursula Bellugi, Judy Snitzer Reilly, Susan Goldwin-Meadow, Andrew Lock, M. Chiara Levorato, and many others.
How Myths about Language Affect Education: What Every Teacher Should Know clarifies some of the most common misconceptions about language, particularly those that affect teachers and the decisions they make when they teach English language learners. The chapters in this book address myths about language in general, about first and second language acquisition, about language and society, and about language and thinking. Each chapter concludes with activities for teachers that give examples, exercises, or simple questions that relate directly to teachers' everyday dealings with ELLs and language.
How Myths about Language Affect Education is not intended to be a complete introduction to linguistics; it does not contain information on phonetics or complex syntactic explanations, and technical jargon is kept to a minimum. The aim of this book is not to settle language issues but rather to highlight popular misconceptions and the ways that they influence debates regarding language and affect language policies in and out of the classroom.
How is it that chimpanzees can learn to "speak" at a higher level than some so-called wolf children? What happened that day in the pumphouse, when Helen Keller suddenly grasped the meaning of words? And picture this: a father and mother who shun the advice of professionals, who doggedly force their way into the closed world of their autistic son, and who reverse his grim prognosis, revealing him to be gifted. How to explain?
In this book, a philosopher combines these famous cases with a lifetime of study to examine the threshold of language--that point "between speech and not quite speech." He provides fascinating accounts of the deaf and blind Helen Keller, of chimpanzees like Washoe, and of feral children such as Victor, the "wild boy of Aveyron," putting a new spin on their stories. When does it start, he asks, that miracle most of us take for granted? Where does it come from, that uniquely human power to transform perception and action into thought and the singular activity we call speech?
Here is evidence that, for chimp or child, the crucial factors in acquiring language have less to do with intellect and everything to do with social interaction. Here is confirmation that the "give-and-take, push-and-pull" of daily life forces virtually all of us to acquire language simply to live and work together. Author Jerry Gill offers no pat answers. Rather, he emphasizes imitation and reciprocity—for example, playing pat-a-cake with a baby—as essential to becoming part of a speaking community "and thereby becoming a human being." In addition, Gill gives dozens of examples to show how gesture and facial expression both create and change the meaning of language. In compelling fashion, he underscores the point that language acquisition can be fully understood only in terms of such physical and social activity. The author exposes the flaws of research focused mainly on mental processes and gives little credit to findings based upon artificially contrived experiments.
With vigor, compassion, and a broad-minded humanism, these pages invite the reader to think again about how we say what we mean, how we mean what we say, and where it all starts in the first place. Valuable to students of psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and anthropology, the book will also appeal to general readers who welcome an opportunity to explore familiar things in a new and entirely enjoyable way.
Bridging the gap between theoretical linguistics and language teaching, Judith R. Strozer explores what recent theoretical advances suggest about learning a language after childhood and the implications for the design and execution of a foreign language program. Strozer outlines clearly, in nontechnical language, the major concepts of modern language theory, from Chomsky's theory of language through the most recent discoveries about the abstract foundations of language. She explains ideas about the evolution of a cognitive structure for language in the human brain, a "language faculty" or Universal Grammar that gives humans alone the creative ability to generate the infinite expressions of language. This innate universal schema for language endows humankind with a number a very broad principles applicable to all languages.
Turning to current advances in the theory of phrase structure, which has replaced our 2,000-year-old rules of grammar with highly abstract universal principles of language structure, she relates the latest discoveries about the foundations of language to ideas about how children learn languages. A child hearing a specific language can automatically set the parameters for the rules governing that particular language, much like setting a binary switch. But our ability to access this innate language mechanism automatically seems limited to childhood, until physical maturity somehow changes this brain function.
Arguing that adults need to learn consciously the systems and structures of another language that children acquire unconsciously, Strozer applies these latest theories about the nature of language and how we learn it to the design of foreign language programs for adults. She concludes with recommendations for developing a new kind of teaching program that would draw on comparative language research and include new pedagogic approaches.
Presenting state-of-the-art language theory in easily readable terms and illustrative examples, this book will be of interest to everyone interested in the latest understanding of the relationship between the brain and language, as well as to all professionals in linguistics and language education.
Language in Use creatively brings together, for the first time, perspectives from cognitive linguistics, language acquisition, discourse analysis, and linguistic anthropology. The physical distance between nations and continents, and the boundaries between different theories and subfields within linguistics have made it difficult to recognize the possibilities of how research from each of these fields can challenge, inform, and enrich the others. This book aims to make those boundaries more transparent and encourages more collaborative research.
The unifying theme is studying how language is used in context and explores how language is shaped by the nature of human cognition and social-cultural activity. Language in Use examines language processing and first language learning and illuminates the insights that discourse and usage-based models provide in issues of second language learning. Using a diverse array of methodologies, it examines how speakers employ various discourse-level resources to structure interaction and create meaning. Finally, it addresses issues of language use and creation of social identity.
Unique in approach and wide-ranging in application, the contributions in this volume place emphasis on the analysis of actual discourse and the insights that analyses of such data bring to language learning as well as how language shapes and reflects social identity—making it an invaluable addition to the library of anyone interested in cutting-edge linguistics.
In this influential study, Steven Pinker develops a new approach to the problem of language learning. Now reprinted with new commentary by the author, this classic work continues to be an indispensable resource in developmental psycholinguistics.
Reviews of this book: "The contribution of [Pinker's] book lies not just in its carefully argued section on learnability theory and acquisition, but in its detailed analysis of the empirical consequences of his assumptions."
--Paul Fletcher, Times Higher Education Supplement
"One of those rare books which every serious worker in the field should read, both for its stock of particular hypotheses and analyses, and for the way it forces one to re-examine basic assumptions as to how one's work should be done. Its criticisms of other approaches to language acquisition...often go to the heart of the difficulties."
--Michael Maratsos, Language
"[A] new edition, with a new preface from the author, of the influential monograph originally published in 1984 in which Pinker proposed one of the most detailed (and according to some, best) theories of language development based upon the sequential activation of different language-acquisition algorithms. In his new preface, the author reaches the not very modest conclusion that, despite the time elapsed, his continues to be the most complete theory of language development ever developed. A classic of the study of language acquisition, in any case."
Language, Mind and Brain is a delightfully readable, yet erudite exploration of how the human mind processes and orders sounds and words into meaning. It explores how properties of the human mind/brain constrain linguistic structure and how linguistics can benefit by combining traditional linguistic methodologies with insights from research on language acquisition, processing, and impairment. The first part of the book offers a useful introduction to the relevant issues for readers with little prior knowledge of these disciplines; part two addresses such key issues as the status of rules, the relationship between grammar and the lexicon, and the relationship between innate structure and acquired knowledge. Fascinating for anyone interested in the intricacies of how language is acquired and how the brain sorts sounds into communication.
In the modern world, success depends upon literacy, a fact especially true for deaf children who, if they read and write well, can take full advantage of e-mail, the Internet, and other communication innovations. Literacy and Your Deaf Child: What Every Parent Should Know provides parents with the means to ensure that their deaf or hard of hearing child becomes a proficient reader and writer. In nine chapters, parents will learn about the relationship of language to reading and writing, including the associated terminology, the challenges that deaf children face, and the role of schools. They'll also learn activities that they can engage in at home that will strengthen their children's reading and writing capabilities.
Literacy and Your Deaf Child begins by introducing some common concepts, among them the importance of parental involvement in a deaf child's education. It outlines how children acquire language and describes the auditory and visual links to literacy. With this information parents can make informed decisions regarding hearing aids, cochlear implants, speechreading, and sign communication, all of which can have a marked influence on their child's language development. Parents will discover how to create environments at home and in their community for fostering their child's literacy, especially in school by learning how to work closely with their child's teachers. The book also refers throughout to the developmental link between American Sign Language and English literacy for children who use sign communication, making it the best guide available for all deaf children and their parents.
David A. Stewart is Professor in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.
Byran R. Clarke, Professor Emeritus, is former Professor and Head of the Educational Psychology and Special Education Department at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Jean Émile Gombert University of Chicago Press, 1992 Library of Congress P118.3.G6 1992 | Dewey Decimal 401.93
At a very early age, the child is able to use and understand
language correctly. Later comes the precocious ability to
“reflect” upon and deliberately control its use.
Metalinguistic development, or the emergence of a reflective
attitude to the comprehension and production of oral and
written language, must be distinguished from that of ordinary
This is the first book to review and analyze what is
known about metacognitive processes in relation to language.
Each of its seven chapters deals systematically with the
relationship between the comprehension and production of the
phonetic, syntactic, semantic, pragmatic, and textual aspects
of language. This material is then related to the
metacognitive principles which govern reflective awareness.
A concluding chapter deals with written language and
Jean Émile Gombert's novel description of processes such
as the understanding of metaphor and humor in relation to
pragmatics and his suggestion that metalinguistic knowledge
is intimately connected with literacy contribute to a fuller
understanding of the stages of language acquisition and
mastery. With clarity and insight, Metalinguistic Development reveals how the capacity for reflection gives
rise to emergent properties of the language system.
“A clear, critical, and interesting book about
an important topic which has not been reviewed properly
before. I particularly like the way that Jean Eacute;mile Gombert
combines a comprehensive account of American work with a very
impressive knowledge of European work.”—Peter Bryant,
University of Oxford
Jean Émile Gombert teaches genetic psychology at the
University of Dijon.
More than Nature Needs
Derek Bickerton Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress P106.B468 2014 | Dewey Decimal 401.9
How did humans acquire cognitive capacities far more powerful than any hunting-and-gathering primate needed to survive? Alfred Russel Wallace, co-founder with Darwin of evolutionary theory, set humans outside normal evolution. Darwin thought use of language might have shaped our sophisticated brains, but this remained an intriguing guess--until now. Combining state-of-the-art research with forty years of writing and thinking about language origins, Derek Bickerton convincingly resolves a crucial problem that biology and the cognitive sciences have systematically avoided.
Before language or advanced cognition could be born, humans had to escape the prison of the here and now in which animal thinking and communication were both trapped. Then the brain's self-organization, triggered by words, assembled mechanisms that could link not only words but the concepts those words symbolized--a process that had to be under conscious control. Those mechanisms could be used equally for thinking and for talking, but the skeletal structures they produced were suboptimal for the hearer and had to be elaborated. Starting from humankind's remotest past, More than Nature Needs transcends nativist thesis and empiricist antithesis by presenting a revolutionary synthesis that shows specifically and in a principled way how and why the synthesis came about.
A remarkable mother-daughter collaboration balances the respected views of a well-known scholar with the fresh perspective of a younger colleague in a comprehensive overview of the theory and practice of language acquisition.
Phonology as Human Behavior brings work in human cognition, behavior, and communication to bear on the study of phonology—the theory of sound systems in language. Yishai Tobin extends the ideas of William Diver—an influential linguist whose investigations into phonology reflect the principle that language represents a constant search for maximum communication with minimal effort—as a part of a new theory of phonology as human behavior. Showing the far-reaching psycho- and sociolinguistic utility of this theory, Tobin demonstrates its applicability to the teaching of phonetics, text analysis, and the theory of language acquisition. Tobin describes the methodological connection between phonological theory and phonetics by way of a comprehensive and insightful survey of phonology’s controversial role in twentieth-century linguistics. He reviews the work of Saussure, Jakobson, Troubetzkoy, Martinet, Zipf, and Diver, among others, and discusses issues in distributional phonology through analyses of English, Italian, Latin, Hebrew, and Yiddish. Using his theory to explain various functional and pathological speech disorders, Tobin examines a wide range of deviant speech processes in aphasia, the speech of the hearing-impaired, and other syndromes of organic origin. Phonology as Human Behavior provides a unique set of principles connecting the phylogeny, ontogeny, and pathology of sound systems in human language.
Principles of Grammar and Learning is concerned with the nature of linguistic competence and with the cognitive structures underlying its acquisition and use. During the past several decades many linguists and psychologists have come to the conclusion that genetically determined categories and principles specific to language are needed to account for the form and acquisition of grammatical systems. William O'Grady argues here for quite a different conclusion, proposing that adequate grammars can be constructed from a conceptual base not specific to language.
To support this thesis, O'Grady develops a well-articulated, single level, categorial-type grammar that he uses to analyze syntactic categories, extraction, anaphora, extraposition, and quantifier placement in English and other languages. He shows that such grammars can be constructed via general learning strategies from notions such as dependency, adjacency, precedence, and continuity, and that the available acquisition data points to the emergence of the principles he proposes.
While exploratory, this book provides one of the few serious attempts to develop a theory of grammar and learning that does not posit faculty-specific innate principles. Principles of Grammar and Learning is an exemplary attempt to bring together issues and data from syntactic theory, language acquisition, and the more general study of the human mind.
William O'Grady University of Chicago Press, 1997 Library of Congress P118.O27 1997 | Dewey Decimal 401.93
Syntactic Development presents a broad critical survey of the research literature on child language development. Giving balanced coverage to both theoretical and empirical issues, William O'Grady constructs an up-to-date picture of how children acquire the syntax of English.
Part 1 offers an overview of the developmental data pertaining to a range of syntactic phenomena, including word order, subject drop, embedded clauses, wh-questions, inversion, relative clauses, passives, and anaphora. Part 2 considers the various theories that have been advanced to explain the facts of development as well as the learnability problem, reporting on work in the mainstream formalist framework but also considering the results of alternative approaches.
Covering a wide range of perspectives in the modern study of syntactic development, this book is an invaluable reference for specialists in the field of language acquisition and provides an excellent introduction to the acquisition of syntax for students and researchers in psychology, linguistics, and cognitive science.
When humans learn languages, are they also learning how to create shared meaning? In The Usage-based Study of Language Learning and Multilingualism, a cadre of international experts say yes and offer cutting-edge research in usage-based linguistics to explore how language acquisition, in particular multilingual language acquisition, works.
Each chapter presents an original study that supports the view that language learning is initiated through local and meaningful communication with others. Over an accumulated history of such usage, people gradually create more abstract, interactive schematic representations, or a mental grammar. This process of acquiring language is the same for infants and adults and across varied contexts, such as the family, the classroom, the laboratory, a hospital, or a public encounter. Employing diverse methodologies to study this process, the contributors here work with target languages, including Cantonese, English, French, French Sign Language, German, Hebrew, Malay, Mandarin, Spanish, and Swedish, and offer a much-needed exploration of this growing area of linguistic research.