LINGUIST List 10.1213

Wed Aug 18 1999

Books: Psycholinguistics/Language Acquisition

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  1. Jud Wolfskill, Psycholinguistics/Language Acquisition

Message 1: Psycholinguistics/Language Acquisition

Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 15:25:33 -0400
From: Jud Wolfskill <wolfskilMIT.EDU>
Subject: Psycholinguistics/Language Acquisition

The following is a book which readers of this list might find of
interest. For more information please visit

How Language Comes to Children: From Birth to Two Years
Benedicte de Boysson-Bardies
translated by Malcolm DeBevoise

That children learn to speak so skillfully at a young age has long
fascinated adults. Most children virtually master their native tongue
even before learning to tie their shoelaces. The ability to acquire
language has historically been regarded as a "gift"--a view given
scientific foundation only in the present century by Noam Chomsky's
theory of "universal grammar," which posits an innate knowledge of the
principles that structure all languages.

In this delightful, accessible book, psycholinguist Benedicte de
Boysson-Bardies presents a broad picture of language development, from
fetal development to the toddler years, and examines a wide range of
puzzling questions: How do newborns recognize elements of speech? How
do they distinguish them from nonspeech sounds? How do they organize
and analyze them? How do they ultimately come to understand and
reproduce these sounds? Finally, how does the ability to communicate
through language emerge in children? Boysson-Bardies also addresses
questions of particular interest to parents, such as whether one
should speak to children in a special way to facilitate language
learning and whether there is cause to worry when a twenty-month-old
child does not yet speak. Although the author provides a clear summary
of the current state of language acquisition theory, the special
appeal of the book lies in her research and dialogue with her many
young subjects.

Benedicte de Boysson-Bardies is a Director of Research in the
Experimental Psychology Laboratory at the Centre Nationale de la
Recherche Scientifique in Paris.

6 x 9, 320 pp., 32 illus., cloth 0-262-02453-5

A Bradford Book

MIT Press
Five Cambridge Center
Cambridge, MA 


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