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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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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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Academic Paper


Title: Definitions as a window to the acquisition of relative clauses
Author: Naama Friedmann
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.tau.ac.il/~naamafr
Institution: Tel-Aviv University
Author: Dorit Aram
Institution: Tel-Aviv University
Author: Rama Novogrodsky
Institution: Tel-Aviv University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics; Syntax
Subject Language: Hebrew
Abstract: Definitions that children provide can be a valuable measure of their syntax, and specifically, of their ability to produce relative clauses. This research explored the acquisition of subject, object, and indirect object relative clauses in 121 Hebrew-speaking children aged 3 years, 5 months to 8 years, 6 months (3;5–8;6). The children were asked to define 14 nouns, and their responses were collected and analyzed for various syntactic aspects. The main results were that children started using relative clauses in their definitions at age 3;8, and their use of relative clause increased consistently until they were 6 years old. Retesting 38 of the 6-year-olds at age 8;6 indicated no differences in several syntactic measures between their production of relative clauses at age 6 and 8;6, suggesting that the ability to produce relative clauses stabilizes around age 6. The participants made almost no grammatical errors at any of the ages, probably because they avoided the use of relative clauses when they had not mastered them yet. In the early stages participants produced mainly headless relatives, and with age the use of a relative head increased. The acquisition of relative clauses was not related to the ability to embed or to the ability to use pronouns: these abilities existed already in the youngest age group and remained constant throughout the age groups.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 32, Issue 4, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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