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Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition
     

Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition

by Michael Tomasello
 

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ISBN-10: 0674010302

ISBN-13: 9780674010307

Pub. Date: 04/15/2003

Publisher: Harvard University Press

In This Groundbreaking Book, Michael Tomasello presents a comprehensive usage-based theory of language acquisition. Drawing together a vast body of empirical research in cognitive science, linguistics, and developmental psychology, Tomasello demonstrates that we don't need a self-contained "language instinct" to explain how children learn language. Their linguistic

Overview

In This Groundbreaking Book, Michael Tomasello presents a comprehensive usage-based theory of language acquisition. Drawing together a vast body of empirical research in cognitive science, linguistics, and developmental psychology, Tomasello demonstrates that we don't need a self-contained "language instinct" to explain how children learn language. Their linguistic ability is interwoven with other cognitive abilities. Tomasello argues that the essence of language is its symbolic dimension, which rests on the uniquely human ability to comprehend intention. Grammar emerges as the speakers of a language create linguistic constructions out of recurring sequences of symbols; children pick up these patterns in the buzz of words they hear around them. All theories of language acquisition assume these fundamental skills of intention-reading and pattern-finding. Some formal linguistic theories posit a second set of acquisition processes to connect somehow with an innate universal grammar. But these extra processes, Tomasello argues, are completely unnecessary -- important to save a theory but not to explain the phenomenon. For all its empirical weaknesses, Chomskian generative grammar has ruled the linguistic world for forty years. Constructing a Language offers a compellingly argued, psychologically sound new vision for the study of language acquisition.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674010307
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
04/15/2003
Pages:
408
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.27(d)

Table of Contents

1Usage-Based Linguistics1
2Origins of Language8
2.1.Phylogenetic Origins9
2.2.Ontogenetic Origins19
2.3.Children's First Utterances31
2.4.Summary40
3Words43
3.1.Early Words and their Uses44
3.2.Processes of Word Learning58
3.3.Theories of Word Learning81
3.4.Summary91
4Early Syntactic Constructions94
4.1.The Nature of Constructions98
4.2.Early Constructional Islands113
4.3.Marking Syntactic Roles126
4.4.Summary140
5Abstract Syntactic Constructions144
5.1.Abstract Constructions146
5.2.Constructing Constructions161
5.3.Constraining Constructions175
5.4.Theories of Syntactic Development181
5.5.Summary193
6Nominal and Clausal Constructions196
6.1.Reference and Nominals199
6.2.Predication and Clauses213
6.3.Learning Morphology232
6.4.Summary241
7Complex Constructions and Discourse243
7.1.Complex Constructions244
7.2.Conversation and Narrative266
7.3.Summary279
8Biological, Cultural, and Ontogenetic Processes282
8.1.Dual Inheritance283
8.2.Psycholinguistic Processes of Acquisition295
8.3.Psycholinguistic Processes of Production305
8.4.The Development of Linguistic Representations314
8.5.Summary320
9Toward a Psychology of Language Acquisition323
References331
Acknowledgements373
Index375

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