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Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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What is English? And Why Should We Care?

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To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.


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Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.


Academic Paper


Title: Young children's sensitivity to listener knowledge and perceptual context in choosing referring expressions
Author: Angelika Wittek
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Author: Michael Tomasello
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Abstract: Speakers use different types of referring expressions depending on what the listener knows or is attending to; for example, they use pronouns for objects that are already present in the immediate discourse or perceptual context. In a first study we found that 2.5- and 3.5-year-old children are strongly influenced by their interlocutor's knowledge of a referent as expressed in her immediately preceding utterance. Specifically, when they are asked a question about a target object ("Where is the broom?"), they tend to use null references or pronouns to refer to that object ("On the shelf" or "It's on the shelf"); in contrast, when they are asked more general questions ("What do we need?") or contrast questions ("Do we need a mop?") that reveal no knowledge of the target object they tend to use lexical nouns ("A broom" or "No, a broom"). In a second study we found that children at around their second birthday are not influenced by immediately preceding utterances in this same way. Finally, in a third study we found that 2.5- and 3.5-year-old children's choice of referring expressions is very little influenced by the physical arrangements of objects in the perceptual context, whether it is absent or needs to be distinguished from a close-by alternative, when they request a target object from a silent adult. These results are discussed in terms of children's emerging understanding of the knowledge and attentional states and other persons.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 26, Issue 4, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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