In celebration of Language Learning's 60th anniversary in 2008, the journal
hosted a conference at the University of Michigan on the theme of "Language
as a Complex Adaptive System." Leading researchers in linguistics,
psychology, and complex systems discussed the path-breaking significance of
this perspective for their work, demonstrating that an understanding of
language learning can only come about from such interdisciplinary,
The articles in this volume summarize this new approach and illustrate it
as it applies to language usage, structure, and change, sociolinguistics,
cognitive linguistics, anthropology, language evolution, first language
acquisition, second language acquisition, psycholinguistics and language
processing, language education, individual differences, and language testing.
"What a breath of fresh air! As interesting a collection of papers as you
are likely to find on the evolution, learning, and use of language from the
point of view of both cognitive underpinnings and communicative
functions."--Michael Tomasello, Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary
Table of Contents:
* Editorial and Dedications (Nick C. Ellis & Diane Larsen-Freeman).
* Language is a complex adaptive system: Position paper.
‘The Five Graces Group' (Clay Beckner, Richard Blythe, Joan Bybee, Morten
H. Christiansen, William Croft, Nick C. Ellis, John Holland, Jinyun Ke,
Diane Larsen-Freeman, & Tom Schoenemann)
* A usage-based account of constituency and reanalysis (Clay Beckner & Joan
* The speech community in evolutionary language dynamics (Richard A. Blythe
& William A. Croft).
* Linking rule acquisition in novel phrasal constructions (Jeremy K. Boyd,
Erin A. Gottschalk, & Adele E. Goldberg).
* Constructing a second language: Analyses and computational simulations of
the emergence of linguistic constructions from usage (Nick C. Ellis & Diane
* A usage-based approach to recursion in sentence processing (Morten H.
Christiansen, & Maryellen C. MacDonald).
* Evolution of brain and language (P. Thomas Schoenemann).
* Complex adaptive systems and the origins of adaptive structure: what
experiments can tell us (Hannah Cornish, Monica Tamariz, & Simon Kirby).
* Meaning in the making: meaning potential emerging from acts of meaning
(Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen).
* Individual differences: Interplay of learner characteristics and learning
environment (Zoltán Dörnyei).
* If language is a complex adaptive system, what is language assessment?
(Robert J. Mislevy & Chengbin Yin).