LINGUIST List 15.3553

Tue Dec 21 2004

Qs: Critical Period Hypothesis; Protosyllabic Fossils

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        1.    Erinn Di Staulo, Critical Period Hypothesis History
        2.    Bart de Boer, Protosyllabic Fossils

Message 1: Critical Period Hypothesis History

Date: 21-Dec-2004
From: Erinn Di Staulo <>
Subject: Critical Period Hypothesis History

I'm looking for some opinions regarding the first mention of the Critical
 Period Hypothesis or its antecedents in published literature.
 Early acquisition studies were very basic and involved very little actual
 science in many cases. However, over time, actual theories have developed.
 The earliest discussion of a critical period (not necessarily by that name)
 is not easily attribuable  to one author, although it is part of most current
 discussions of first and second language acquisition and the focus of studies of
 so-called 'feral' children.
 Most pre-Chomsky investigation of acquisition is purely behaviorist in
 nature (Skinner, Piaget) and although valid observational conclusions are
 drawn, it is unclear if the genesis of the CP hypothesis is to be found in
 this type of work. 
 Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Message 2: Protosyllabic Fossils

Date: 21-Dec-2004
From: Bart de Boer <>
Subject: Protosyllabic Fossils

As part of my research into the evolution of speech I am interested in what
Jackendoff (in chapter 8 of Foundations of Language) 'Protosyllabic
Fossils'. These are learned and meaningful utterances that do not fit the
honotactics/phonology of a language, such as (Jackendoff's examples) shh,
psst, 'm-hm (yes), 'm-'m (no) and the apical click to express disapporoval
(tsk-tsk). I am interested in the cross-linguistic occurrence and use of
these utterances. Has this been studied before, and if yes what would be
the reference? In any case I am interested in examples of such utterances
in other languages, preferrably non-western ones (as examples of western
languages are more easily obtained).

Bart de Boer 

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
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