Attendance is free but places are limited. Recordings will be made available shortly after the talks, and linked through this site.
Research on language acquisition has long sought to increase our understanding of how infants’ linguistic experiences shape language development. A stunning majority of studies on early language acquisition are based on the Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) children who are easily studied given the location of most research labs. The developmental conditions these children experience are far from being representative of the most common contemporary situation of humans, since a statistical majority of humans today are not rich and/or living in industrial societies; nor are they representative of the situation that humankind has experienced for most of its biological history, which is probably better captured by that of current-day hunter-gatherers. In this seminar cycle, we invite experts working on different aspects of language development to present an overview of ongoing non-WEIRD research.
This cycle is financed with the support of the Labex-IEC, within the program New Ideas (in Linguistics)
Speakers and (preliminary) titles
Tuesday February 28 11:30-13 - Salle Djebar
Marisa Casillas (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics)
Early language experience and communicative development in two rural indigenous communities
Tuesday March 14 11:30-13 - Salle Djebar
Amanda Seidl (Purdue University)
The role of touch in infant language acquisition: Comparison of mothers interacting with American hearing, American deaf and Korean hearing infants
Friday April 7, 2017 16:00-17:30 - Salle Djebar
Ben Ambridge (University of Liverpool)
Crosslinguistic acquisition of verb argument structure
How children acquire their native language remains one of the key unsolved problems in cognitive science. This work addresses a question that lies at the heart of this problem: How do children acquire the abstract generalizations that allow them to produce novel sentences, while avoiding the ungrammatical utterances that result from across-the-board application of these generalizations (e.g., *The clown laughed the man)? Previous theories (the entrenchment, preemption and verb semantics hypotheses) have enjoyed some success for English, but remain largely untested for other languages. In this talk, I present an outline of — and hopefully some preliminary findings from — a project designed to answer this question looking across five languages: English, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese and K’iche’ Mayan. In addition to the overarching theoretical question set out above, the research addresses four key questions: (1) What do learners bring to the task in terms of cognitive-semantic universals?; (2) How do children form linguistic generalizations in the first place?; (3) Why are languages the way they are; would other types of systems be difficult or impossible to learn?; (4) What is the nature of development?. I will present elicitation, grammaticality judgment and modelling studies (at ages 3-4, 5-6, 9-10 and 18+ years) designed to answer these questions.
Tuesday May 9, 11:30-13 - Salle Langevin
Elena Lieven (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and University of Manchester)
Cross-cultural variation in syntactic acquisition
Tuesday May 9, 14-15:30 - Salle de réunion Pavillon Jardin
Damian Blasi (University of Zurich and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)
Syntactic and lexical characteristics in input to children learning one of eight typologically diverse languages
Thursday July 6th 12:30-14:00 - Salle de réunion Pavillon Jardin
Catherine Tamis-LeMonda (New York University)
Cultural variation in mother-child interaction among immigrant families
Thursday July 13 12:30-14:00 - Salle de réunion Pavillon Jardin
Celia Rosemberg (CONICET)
Language use in a "culture of silence"