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Conference Information

Full Title: DGfS 2014 Workshop: Categories and Categorization in First and Second Language Acquisition

Location: Marburg, Germany
Start Date: 05-Mar-2014 - 07-Mar-2014
Contact: Karin Madlener
Meeting Email: click here to access email
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Meeting Description: DGfS 2014 Workshop ‘Categories and Categorization in First and Second Language Acquisition’

The workshop is organized as part of the 36th Annual Meeting of the German Society for Linguistics (DGfS), to be held at the University of Marburg, Germany, March 5-7, 2014.

What is the nature of categories in learner languages? Since children do not use language in the full specification of the target language, some researchers proposed to name their early categories differently (e.g., pivot-grammar, Braine 1963). But since the mechanisms of the transition from non-target to target categories remained unclear, proponents of nativist accounts proposed continuity between learner- and target language (e.g., Pinker 1989). This, in turn, calls for a specification of the nature and range of innate categories, the processes that activate innate categories, the intermediate states from non-targetlike to target-like usage, and the interaction between universal and language-specific categories. Current emergentist approaches to language acquisition, in contrast, do not consider fixed categories as the basis for syntactic processes, but rather as the result of categorization processes (Tomasello 2003, Smith 2005). In such a perspective, part-of-speech categories are the epiphenomenon of a word’s occurrence in various constructions. Universal tendencies would be the result of the cognitive processes of schematization and categorization, including embodiment.

As learner categories change with development, the main challenge is to account for the processing, storage, and representation of learner categories, be it in terms of underspecification under the continuity assumption, or in terms of graded representations as in emergentist approaches. The workshop will focus on contributions from first and second language acquisition researchers, cognitive linguists and psycholinguists that provide corpus-based and experimental accounts to assess the degree of abstractness, generalization and variability of specific categories over developmental time. Of particular interest are studies that address the acquisition of part of speech categories or verb-argument structure classes (syntax-semantics interface).


Heike Behrens, University of Basel, English Department
Karin Madlener, University of Basel, German Department
Linguistic Subfield: Applied Linguistics; Cognitive Science; Language Acquisition; Linguistic Theories; Psycholinguistics
LL Issue: 24.2597

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