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Language development as a joint process: Why the simultaneous learning of Form, Content, and Use is more a help than a hindrance

October/08/2021 @ 12:00

Abdellah Fourta (Aix-Marseille University & INRIA Paris)


To acquire language, children need to learn form (e.g., phonology), content (e.g., word meaning), and use (e.g., finding the right words to convey a communicative intent). The scientific study of language development has traditionally studied these dimensions separately. Indeed, one could imagine that children first acquire the form, then associate form with content, and only then, learn how to use form and content adequately in a communicative context. The reality of the situation is that children have to deal with aspects of form, content and use simultaneously and experimental studies suggest that the timeline of acquisition of these dimensions largely overlap, indicating that children learn them in parallel, not one at a time. While this fact makes language acquisition seem even harder than we previously thought, here I argue that the joint learning of form, content, and use may be more a help than a hindrance, as these dimensions are interdependent in many ways and can therefore constrain/disambiguate each other. I will illustrate this idea based on my previous and current research combining both experimental and computational modeling.

Where: Zoom (send us an email to receive the link)


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