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1. On the Development of the Field of Language Development

Marilyn Shatz

Subject Cognitive Psychology » Psychology of Language

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405132534.2006.00003.x


“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” A conversation between a 2-year-old boy and his grandmother (1991): gm : ( reading ) There were many, many buildings in the city. c : Many, many builds. A conversation between a 3 1 / 2 -year-old girl and her grandmother (2006): gm : They're building a house. c : No, not “ building .” Say “ making .” Speculation about how children come to know a language antedates by centuries the systematic investigation of the topic; only in the last century did the methodical study of language development explode. In roughly 100 years (dating the field's origins from the diaries of the Sterns, 1907) there have been a myriad of studies on children's language development and many consequent changes in both method and theory. Within this relatively short history, the field has reflected the changing “hot” intellectual trends of the times. Thus, the first half of the twentieth century saw descriptive, normative work like McCarthy's (1930 ), whereas much work in the latter half of the twentieth century, influenced by theoretical work in linguistics, attempted to prove or disprove claims about predispositions specific to language (see Pinker, 1994 ). Now, in the early twenty-first century, much research in language development is concerned with brain development and computational skills, cross-linguistic and cultural comparisons, and bilingualism and education. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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