24.949 | Fall 2020 | Graduate

Language Acquisition I


Class 1: Foundations

Fred C. Dyer and Jeffrey A. Dickinson (1996). “Sun-Compass Learning in Insects: Representation in a Simple Mind.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 5(3): 67–72.

Class 2: Words

Athulya Aravind, Jill de Villiers, Amy Pace, Hannah Valentine, Roberta Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Aquiles Iglesias, and Mary Sweig Wilson (2018). “Fast Mapping Word Meanings across Trials: Young Children Forget All but Their First Guess.” Cognition 177: 177–188.

Buy at MIT Press Paul Bloom (2000). “Chapter 1: First Words” in How Children Learn the Meanings of Words, 1–24. The MIT Press. ISBN: 9780262523295.

Jane Gillette, Henry Gleitman, Lila Gleitman, and Anne Lederer (1998). “Human Simulations of Vocabulary Learning.” IRCS Technical Reports Series 71.

Lila Gleitman (1989). “The Structural Sources of Verb Meaning.” Papers and Reports on Child Language Development 28: 1–48.

Class 3: Syntactic Bootstrapping

Cynthia Fisher (1996). “Structural Limits on Verb Mapping: The Role of Analogy in Children’s Interpretations of Sentences.” Cognitive Psychology 31: 41–81.

Cynthia Fisher, Kyong-sun Jin, and Rose M. Scott (2019). “The Developmental Origins of Syntactic Bootstrapping.” Topics in Cognitive Science 12: 48–77.

Jerry Fodor (1998). “The Demise of Definitions, Part I: The Linguist’s Tale” in Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong. Clarendon Press. ISBN: 9780198236368.

Peter Gordon (1985). “Evaluating the Semantic Categories Hypothesis: The Case of the Count/Mass Distinction.” Cognition 20(3): 209–242.

Jeffrey Lidz, Henry Gleitman, and Lila Gleitman (2001). “Kidz in the ‘Hood: Syntactic Bootstrapping and the Mental Lexicon.” IRCS Technical Reports Series 20.

Rushen Shi and Andréane Melançon (2010). “Syntactic Categorization in French-Learning Infants.” Infancy 15(5): 517–533.

Sylvia Yuan and Cynthia Fisher (2009). "‘Really? She Blicked the Baby?’: Two-Year-Olds Learn Combinatorial Facts about Verbs by Listening." Psychological Science 20(5): 619–626.

Class 4: Early Syntax

Luigi Rizzi (1993). “Some Notes on Linguistic Theory and Language Development: The Case of Root Infinitives.” Language Acquisition 3(4): 371–393.

Rushen Shi (2014). “Functional Morphemes and Early Language Acquisition.” Child Development Perspectives 8(1): 6–11.

Rushen Shi, Emeryse Emond, and Sophia Badri (2020). “Hierarchical Structure Dependence in Infants at the Early Stage of Syntactic Acquisition” (PDF) in Megan M. Brown and Alexandra Kohut (eds.), _Proceedings of the 44_th Boston University Conference on Language Development, 572–585. Cascadilla Press. ISBN: 9781574730579.

Rushen Shi, Camille Legrand, and Anna Brandenberger (2020). “Toddlers Track Hierarchical Structure Dependence.” Language Acquisition 27(4): 397–409.

Melanie Soderstrom, Katherine S. White, Erin Conwell, and James L. Morgan (2007). “Receptive Grammatical Knowledge of Familiar Content Words and Inflection in 16-Month-Olds.” Infancy 12(1), 1–29.

Ken Wexler (1998). “Very Early Parameter Setting and the Unique Checking Constraint: A New Explanation of the Optional Infinitive Stage.” Lingua 106: 23–79.

———— (2011). “Grammatical Computation in the Optional Infinitive Stage” in Jill de Villiers and Tom Roeper (eds.), Handbook of Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition (Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics 41). Springer. ISBN: 9789400716896.

Class 5: Root Infinitives

Rose-Marie Déchaine (1991). “Bare Sentences.” Proceedings of SALT 1: 31–50.

Justin M. Fitzpatrick (2006). “Deletion through Movement.” Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 24: 399–431. 

Teun Hoekstra and Nina Hymas (1998). “Aspects of Root Infinitives” (PDF - 2.4 MB)Lingua 106: 81–112.

Nina Hyams (2011). “Missing Subjects in Early Child Language” (PDF) in Jill de Villiers and Tom Roeper (eds.), Handbook of Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition (Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics 41). Springer. ISBN: 9789400716896.  

David Poeppel and Ken Wexler (1993). “The Full Competence Hypothesis of Clause Structure in Early German.” Language 69(1): 1–33.

Carson T. Schütze (1997). “INFL in Child and Adult Language: Agreement, Case, and Licensing” (PDF - 1.1 MB). Ph.D. dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Carson T. Schütze and Ken Wexler (1996). “Subject Case Licensing and English Root Infinitives” (PDF) in Andy Stringfellow et al. (eds.), _Proceedings of the 20_th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, 670–681. Cascadilla Press. ISBN: 9781574731125.

Class 6: Passives

Hagit Borer and Ken Wexler (1987). “The Maturation of Syntax” in Tom Roeper and Edwin Williams (eds.), Parameter Setting, 123–172. 

Benjamin Bruening (2012). "By Phrases in Passives and Nominals." Syntax 16(1): 1–41.

Chris Collins (2005). “A Smuggling Approach to the Passive in English.” Syntax 8(2): 81–120.

Kamil Ud Deen (2011). “The Acquisition of the Passive” in Jill de Villiers and Tom Roeper (eds.), Handbook of Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition (Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics 41). Springer. ISBN: 9789400716896.

David Embick (2004). “On the Structure of Resultative Participles in English.” Linguistic Inquiry 35(3): 355–392.

Danny Fox and Yosef Grodzinsky (1998). “Children’s Passive: A View from the By-Phrase.” Linguistic Inquiry 29(2), 311–332.

Christopher Hirsch and Ken Wexler (2005). “Children’s Passives and Their Resulting Interpretation” (PDF) in K.U. Deen et al. (eds.), The Proceedings of the Inaugural Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition ­North America (University of Connecticut Occasional Papers in Linguistics 4) 125–136. 

Michael Maratsos, Dana E. C. Fox, Judith A. Becker, and Mary Anne Chalkley (1985). “Semantic Restrictions on Children’s Passives.” Cognition 19: 167–191.

Katherine Messenger, Holly P. Branigan, Janet F. McLean, and Antonella Sorace (2012). “Is Young Children’s Passive Syntax Semantically Constrained? Evidence from Syntactic Priming.” Journal of Memory and Language 66(4): 568–587.

Alexander Williams (2015). “Chapter 12: Passives” in Arguments in Syntax and Semantics, 273–306. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9780521151726.

Class 7: Unaccusatives

Maria Babyonyshev, Jennifer Ganger, David Pesetsky, and Ken Wexler (2001). “The Maturation of Grammatical Principles: Evidence from Russian Unaccusatives.” Linguistic Inquiry 32(1): 1–44.

Na’ama Friedmann (2007). “Young Children and A-Chains: The Acquisition of Hebrew Unaccusatives.” Language Acquisition 14(4): 377–422.

Loes Koring, Pim Mak, and Eric Reuland (2012). “The Time Course of Argument Reactivation Revealed: Using the Visual World Paradigm.” Cognition 123: 361–379.

Class 8: Wh-Movement

Ben Ambridge and Caroline F. Rowland (2009). “Predicting Children’s Errors with Negative Questions: Testing a Schema-Combination Account.” Cognitive Linguistics 20(2): 225–266.

Ben Ambridge, Caroline F. Rowland, Anna L. Theakston, and Michael Tomasello (2006). “Comparing Different Accounts of Inversion Errors in Children’s Non-subject Wh-Questions: ‘What Experimental Data Can Tell Us?’” Journal of Child Language 33(3): 519–57.

Buy at MIT Press Maria Teresa Guasti (2017). “Chapter 6: Acquisition of Wh-Movement” in Language Acquisition: The Growth of Grammar. MIT Press. ISBN: 9780262529389.

C. Jane Lutken, Géraldine Legendre, and Akira Omaki (2020). “Syntactic Creativity Errors in Children’s Wh-Questions.” Cognitive Science 44: e12849. 

Laurel Perkins and Jeffrey Lidz (2020). “Filler-Gap Dependency Comprehension at 15 Months: The Role of Vocabulary.” Language Acquisition 27:1, 98–115.

Amanda Seidl, George Hollich, and Peter W. Jusczyk (2003). “Early Understanding of Subject and Object Wh-Questions.” Infancy 4(3), 423–436.

Karin Stromswold (1995). “The Acquisition of Subject and Object Wh-Questions.” Language Acquisition 4(1/2): 5–48.

Rosalind Thornton (2020). “Acquisition of Questions” in Jeffrey Lidz, William Snyder, and Joe Pater (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Developmental Linguistics. Oxford Uiversity Press. ISBN: 9780199601264.

———— (1990). “Adventures in Long-Distance Moving: The Acquisition of Complex Wh-Questions.” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Connecticut.

Jill de Villiers (1993). “Empty Categories and Complex Sentences: The Case of Wh-Questions” in Paul Fletcher and Brian MacWhinney (eds.), The Handbook of Child Language, 508–544. ISBN: 9781405166317.   

Jill de Villiers, Tom Roeper, and Anne Vainikka (1990). “The Acquisition of Long-Distance Rules” in Lyn Frazier and Jill de Villiers (eds.), Language Processing and Language Acquisition, 257–297. Kluwer. ISBN: 9780792306597.

Class 9: Quantifiers

Athulya Aravind, Jill de Villiers, Peter de Villiers, Christopher J. Lonigan, Beth M. Phillips, Jeanine Clancy, Susan H. Landry, Paul R. Swank, Michael Assel, Heather B. Taylor, Nancy Eisenberg, Tracy Spinrad, and Carlos Valiente (2017). “Children’s Quantification with Every over Time.” Glossa 2(1): 43.

Andrea Gualmini, Sarah Hulsey, Valentine Hacquard, and Danny Fox (2008). “The Question–Answer Requirement for Scope Assignment.” Natural Language Semantics 6: 205–237.

Napoleon Katsos, Chris Cummins, Maria-José Ezeizabarrena, Anna Gavarró, Jelena Kuvač Kraljević, Gordana Hrzica, Kleanthes K. Grohmann, Athina Skordi, Kristine Jensen de López, Lone Sundahl, Angeliek van Hout, Bart Hollebrandse, Jessica Overweg, Myrthe Faber, Margreet van Koert, Nafsika Smith, Maigi Vija, Sirli Zupping, Sari Kunnari, Tiffany Morisseau, Manana Rusieshvili, Kazuko Yatsushiro, Anja Fengler, Spyridoula Varlokosta, Katerina Konstantzou, Shira Farby, Maria Teresa Guasti, Mirta Vernice, Reiko Okabe, Miwa Isobe, Peter Crosthwaite, Yoonjee Hong, Ingrida Balčiūnienè, Yanti Marina Ahmad Nizar, Helen Grech, Daniela Gatt, Win Nee Cheong, Arve Asbjørnsen, Janne von Koss Torkildsen, Ewa Haman, Aneta Miękisz, Natalia Gagarina, Julia Puzanova, Darinka Anđelković, Maja Savić, Smiljana Jošić, Daniela Slančová, Svetlana Kapalková, Tania Barberán, Duygu Özge, Saima Hassan, Cecilia Yuet Hung Chan, Tomoya Okubo, Heather van der Lely, Uli Sauerland, and Ira Noveck (2016). “Cross-Linguistic Patterns in the Acquisition of Quantifiers.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 113(33): 9244-9.

Jeffrey Lidz and Julien Musolino (2002). “Children’s Command of Quantification” (PDF - 1.5 MB) Cognition 84: 113–154.

William Philip (2011). “Acquiring Knowledge of Universal Quantification” in Jill de Villiers and Tom Roeper (eds.), Handbook of Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition (Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics 41). Springer. ISBN: 9789400716896.

Ayaka Sugawara, Hadas Kotek, Martin Hackl, and Ken Wexler (2013). “Long vs. Short QR: Evidence from the Acquisition of ACD” (PDF) in Sarah Baiz, Nora Goldman, and Rachel Hawkes (eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, 410–422. ISBN: 9781574730852.

Kristen Syrett and Jeffrey Lidz (2009). “QR in Child Grammar: Evidence from Antecedent-Contained Deletion.” Language Acquisition 6(2): 67–81.

Class 10: Numerals

Lisa Bylinina and Rick Nouwen (2020). “Numeral Semantics.” Language and Linguistics Compass 14(8): e12390.

Susan Carey (2011). “Chapter 8: Beyond Core Cognition: Natural Number” in The Origin of Concepts. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780199838806.

Lisa Feigenson, Stanislas Dehaene, and Elizabeth Spelke (2004). “Core Systems of Number.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8(7): 307–314.

Elective Readings Set A (read one):

Christopher Kennedy and Kristen Syrett (2019). “Numerals Denote Degree Quantifiers: Evidence from Child Language” (PDF). Unpublished manuscript.

Julien Musolino (2003). “The Semantics and Acquisition of Number Words: Integrating Linguistic and Developmental Perspectives.” Cognition 93: 1–41.

Elective Readings Set B (read one):

David Barner and Asaf Bachrach (2010). “Inference and Exact Numerical Representation in Early Language Development.” Cognitive Psychology 60(1): 40–62.

Roman Feiman, Joshua K. Hartshorne, and David Barner (2019). “Contrast and Entailment: Abstract Logical Relations Constrain How 2- and 3-Year-Old Children Interpret Unknown Numbers.” Cognition 183: 192–207.

Yi Ting Huang , Elizabeth Spelke, and Jesse Snedeker (2013). “What Exactly Do Numbers Mean?” (PDF - 1.7 MB)Language Learning and Development 9(2): 105–129.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2020
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Lecture Notes