LING-451 Language Acquisition
Spring for 2013-2014
In this introductory graduate-credit course we survey some of the important issues and ideas surrounding the accomplishment of an extraordinary feat––the near-effortless intellectual mastery by young children of systems so complex that they have so far defied precise description and modeling by computer scientists, linguists, philosophers and psychologists. We will consider at what point children are thought to know certain things about the language they’re acquiring (and how we think we know this); how children learn to segment the speech stream (and why this may be much harder for adult language learners); the use of special kinds of input modification (such as ‘motherese’) and whether/how this is helpful or necessary for language development; how children’s phonological, grammatical, lexical-semantic, and pragmatic communicative competence systems develop; the critical period hypothesis, with implications for adult L2 acquisition and L1 acquisition by Deaf children; and possibly other topics (as time and interest allow) such as L1 attrition and specific language impairment. There will be some emphasis on close reading and critical analysis of primary-source literature (i.e. actual acquisition studies), along with some data analysis so that you will have an opportunity to become more familiar with some of the design and experimental methods employed in language acquisition research. This course satisfies the departmental PhD distributional requirement in language acquisition.
Prerequisites: LING-401 (General Linguistics) or the equivalent
Other academic years
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