Language Acquisition and Development: A Generative Introduction

Language Acquisition and Development: A Generative Introduction

by Misha Becker, Kamil Ud Deen


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An introduction to the study of children's language development that provides a uniquely accessible perspective on generative/universal grammar–based approaches.

How children acquire language so quickly, easily, and uniformly is one of the great mysteries of the human experience. The theory of Universal Grammar suggests that one reason for the relative ease of early language acquisition is that children are born with a predisposition to create a grammar. This textbook offers an introduction to the study of children's acquisition and development of language from a generative/universal grammar–based theoretical perspective, providing comprehensive coverage of children's acquisition while presenting core concepts crucial to understanding generative linguistics more broadly.

After laying the theoretical groundwork, including consideration of alternative frameworks, the book explores the development of the sound system of language—children's perception and production of speech sound; examines how words are learned (lexical semantics) and how words are formed (morphology); investigates sentence structure (syntax), including argument structure, functional structure, and tense; considers such “nontypical” circumstances as acquiring a first language past infancy and early childhood, without the abilities to hear or see, and with certain cognitive disorders; and studies bilingual language acquisition, both simultaneously and in sequence.

Each chapter offers a summary section, suggestions for further reading, and exercises designed to test students' understanding of the material and provide opportunities to practice analyzing children's language. Appendixes provide charts of the International Phonetic Alphabet (with links to websites that allow students to listen to the sounds associated with these symbols) and a summary of selected experimental methodologies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262043588
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 03/10/2020
Series: The MIT Press
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Misha Becker is Professor of Linguistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kamil Ud Deen is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Becker and Deen provide a lucid, thorough, and sophisticated picture of children's language acquisition. By connecting theories of how children come to know a language with the key discoveries and methods of the field, this text will prove to be an invaluable resource for students of the human language faculty.

Jeffrey Lidz , Distinguished Scholar-Teacher and Professor of Linguistics, University of Maryland

This text is a great actualization of scientific thinking on language acquisition. Anchoring the explanation of children's language milestones within a generative framework, it does not neglect to point out other, input-based theories. Legible to anybody with an interest in child language development and formal linguistic theory.

Jeannette Schaeffer , Professor of Language Acquisition, University of Amsterdam; author of  The Acquisition of Direct Object Scrambling and Clitic Placement and Specific Language Impairment

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