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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Academic Paper

Title: Towards a Dual Mechanism Model of Language Development
Paper URL:
Author: Joseph A. Galasso
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Institution: California State University, Northridge
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: The study of syntactic development in children, for all intents and purposes, is reducible to a single minded inquiry into how the very young child (implicitly) knows to distinguish between lexical stems and functional affixes. Hence, the overriding question burning in the minds of most developmental linguists is morpho-phonological in nature. For instance, it would seem that the child must at least know (a priori) the stem before she can then engage in a dual-track process by which ambient separation of the morpho-phonological distinction attributive to past tense is carried out, say, between the paradigmatic representation of the English word play vs. play-ed /ple-d/ (a dual processing which provokes separation of the /play/-stem and the /d/-affix). Otherwise, it could be conceivable for the young child that the pair play-played would represent altogether two different lexical stems, and, stored as such, reflect two distinct though relatively similar semantic notions (a single processing): perhaps not unlike what we do find regarding derived words where an otherwise 'two-morpheme analysis of [teach]-{er} is processed (tagged, stored and retrieved) as a single-morpheme' stem [teacher], similar to how the word [brother] is stored. /L/ /L/A two-point conclusion is reached in this paper: (i) that children have instant access to and make tacit use of innate syntactic knowledge, allowing them instinctively to know to separate stem from affix—leading to a Gradual Development Hypothesis which shows developmental asymmetry between the acquisition of lexical vs. functional categories (Radford 1990)—and (ii) that such prima facie knowledge naturally arises from The Dual Mechanism Model, a processing model that offers the best of both worlds in that it can account for both how the child comes to ‘know’ lexical stems in the first place, and subsequently, how such stems come to be distinguished and project morpho-phonological material leading to stem vs. affix separation./L//L/Finally, an interesting and potentially far reaching implication is advanced stating that there resides not only a dual routing system in the brain for the split processing of stem+affix material, but that the proposed dual model can be extended in such a way as to cast an entirely new dual-typology of language in the sense that (i) 'modular-complex' weak-stem/synthetic languages with a low, medium to high gradient range of stem modularity (English, Spanish to Hebrew, respectively) come to use the cerebral rule-based processing area as an additional language storage capacity, in contrast to (ii) 'modular-simple' strong-stem/analytical, agglutinative languages (Chinese, Hungarian) which, due to their global modularity, mitigate inflectional affixation to a much less complex system, thus preserving a more economically robust single storage capacity based entirely on the frequency-based processing area of the brain. When this notion of modular-complexity is raised in conjunction with a previously established parameter setting dealing with [+/- Bare-Stem] languages, a new and powerful tool is fashioned allowing us to better describe and explain child functional category/feature onsets within divergent language groups. It is therefore argued that many of the cross-linguistic asymmetries found in Early Child Inflectional Development should be better thought of as reflecting how the innate Language Faculty provides languages the selection of a single vs. a dual storage capacity.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
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