L1. Lecture 6. Continuity and change in development.

L1. Lecture 6. Continuity and change in development.
1. Child linguistic knowledge over time.
Questions: Whether linguistic principles (rules) are innate? =what is in the
What is the adult grammar (the end state of development)?
What is in between? (developmental stages)?
2. Pre- and protomorphology
is aimed to show that the very first rules develop according to the general cognitive
principles and are not language-specific (premorphology).
The second period (protomorphology) is characterized by the creation of a simplyfied
system which is language specific. This protomorphological system includes
miniparadigms that refer to the most productive macroclasses.
Verbs risovaju, risut', nouns solja.
3. Another kind of linguistic theory is UG,
which assumes that languages have cognitive particularity (independence from other
systems of knowledge) and modularity.
Child linguistic ability is considered extraordinal if not for the LAD an innate
mechanism that helps children to get the most important principles and parameters of
The continuity and change problem arises in the framework of GB theory (universal
principles and language-specific parameters).
It concerns the stages of acquisition.
4. Maturation hypothesis ( = Discontinuity hypothesis)
There are stages in language development that are not constrained by Universal
4.1. X-bar theory: Phrase structures at a 2-word stage ( 1, 5<MLU< 2;5)
Mommy bathroom, car give,
slipper doggie
(no prep)
( no subject) no prep - headless maximal projection
see pretty, see red headless NP containing an adjective (Hans hat ein neues gekauft.)
4.2. Theta-theory: valence requirements of verb
Baby milk; mom cottage cheese.
(counter-argument : do ch. distinguish adj. & nouns? Is it a real adj.?)
4.3. Case theory word order ( fixed word order; directionality ( left-to right, Turk,
Japanese: right to left) balloon throw, doggie look-it.
4.4. Binding theory: use of anaphors John asked Peter to paint himself.
Matthei (1981)
The chicken said that the pigs tickled each other. - 64,4 % each other = pigs.
Tavakolian (1978)
(For him) To kiss the lion would make the duck happy. (him is not the duck),
therefore Tavakolian points out that children’s' interpretations are governed by linear
4.5. Place of negation
No the sun shining
No Fraser drink all tea.
4.6. Omission of Wh-words in the questions
Kommt der Papp denn (wann)
Machst du denn (was)
4.7. Stage- transition problem - what makes children to move from one stage to
Discovering ungrammaticalities, selective attention ( Hyams) Intake is not equal to
input. Changing perception.
Felix, S. 1992. Language acquisition as a maturational process. In: Weissenborn, J.;
Goodluck, H., Roeper, Th. (Eds.) Theoretical issues in language acquisition :
continuity and change in development. LEA Publishers. Hillsdale, New Jersey, Hove
& London.
5. Continuity hypothesis (perceptionism)
assumes that the main principles of UG are innate and represented from the very
beginning (strong - weak continuity). Child grammar (syntax) obeys to the general
principles and does not violate them . Since principles are very general it may be true.
Children’s grammars are possible grammars.
UG principles are fixed through lexical learning.
LAD is stationary and direct.
Pinker S. (1984) Language learnability and language development. Cambridge MA:
Harvard Univ. Press.
Continuity + lexical learning. Lexicon in GB.
Clahsen, H. (1988). Normal und gestörte Kindersprache (Normal and pathological
child language). Amsterdam, Benjamins.
Case of deletion ( mommy sock, sweater chair, see ball)
Thematic subjects should not be deleted <> in child grammar all S may be deleted.
If Theta-criterion matures, then incomplete sentences must disappear.
Spoken language - omissions.
Clahsen, H. 1992. Learnability theory and the problem of development. In:
Weissenborn, J.; Goodluck, H., Roeper, Th. (Eds.) Theoretical issues in language
acquisition : continuity and change in development. LEA Publ. Hillsdale, New Jersey,
Hove & London.
Weak continuity (Borer, H. & Wexler K. 1987. The maturation of syntax. In Roeper,
Th. & Williams, E.(Eds.) Parameter setting. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Foris.
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