24.949 | Fall 2020 | Graduate

Language Acquisition I


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hrs / session


All four of the following:

Course Description

This course focuses on the process by which native speakers of a language acquire the ability to speak and understand that language. We will cover some of the major results in the study of first-language acquisition, concentrating on morpho-syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. The findings primarily come from English, but cross-linguistic differences in the phenomena of interest and corresponding differences in acquisition patterns are considered where appropriate. Of interest throughout is how these developmental data inform linguistic theory and/or learnability theory.


The requirements for participation in this course are that:

  • You show up;
  • You participate in discussion;
  • You send me a response (one page maximum) to readings for the coming class by Sunday evening at 6 pm.

If you are taking the course for credit, you must, in addition, develop an acquisition-related research topic of your own interest. See the Assignments page for more details.

Schedule of Topics

Class 1: Foundations
Class 2: Words
Class 3: Syntactic bootstrapping
Class 4: Early syntax
Class 5: Root infinitives
Class 6: Passives
Class 7: Unaccusatives
Class 8: Wh-movement
Class 9: Quantifiers
Class 10: Numerals
Class 11: Class presentations
Class 12: Class presentations

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2020
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes