The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Experimental Syntax & Semantics Lab Meeting 3/1 - Julien Musolino (Rutgers)

Speaker: Julien Musolino (Rutgers University)
Title: Studying Language Acquisition during the Preschool years: Do we need a new paradigm?
Time: Friday, 3/1, 2-3pm
Location: 32-D831


The preschool years have been a particularly fruitful developmental period for research on language acquisition for two main reasons. The first is that preschoolers are sophisticated language users and can therefore be tested on a range of complex linguistic phenomena of interest to linguists and psycholinguists. The second is that in spite of their linguistic savvy, preschoolers have often been found to differ systematically from adults in their linguistic behavior. Over the past several decades, these observations have led to the emergence of a dominant framework to study language acquisition during the preschool period, accompanied by a wealth of empirical findings. Its historical significance and usefulness notwithstanding, there are strong signs today that this framework needs to be fundamentally revised. In this presentation, I will introduce the standard framework, showcase some of its main applications, and discuss its limitations and the need for a new paradigm.