Special Topics: THE CHILD AND THE WORLD: How Children Acquire Language

The special topic calls for papers on THE CHILD AND THE WORLD: How Children Acquire Language and such papers will appear in Studies in Literature and Language as a special column.

Affiliated research area: Motor Theory, Language Acquisition, Vision and Thought, Function Words, Sentence Structure, Articulatory Gesture, Kant's Categories


Over the last few decades research into child language acquisition has been revolutionized by the use of ingenious new techniques which allow one to investigate what in fact infants (that is children not yet able to speak) can perceive when exposed to a stream of speech sound, the discriminations they can make between different speech sounds, different speech sound sequences and different words. However on the central features of the mystery, the extraordinarily rapid acquisition of lexicon and complex syntactic structures, little solid progress has been made. The questions being researched are how infants acquire and produce the speech sounds (phonemes) of the community language; how infants find words in the stream of speech; and how they link words to perceived objects or action, that is, discover meanings. In a recent general review in Nature of children's language acquisition, Patricia Kuhl also asked why we do not learn new languages as easily at 50 as at 5 and why computers have not cracked the human linguistic code. The motor theory of language function and origin makes possible a plausible account of child language acquisition generally from which answers can be derived also to these further questions. Why computers so far have been unable to 'crack' the language problem becomes apparent in the light of the motor theory account: computers can have no natural relation between words and their meanings; they have no conceptual store to which the network of words is linked nor do they have the innate aspects of language functioning - represented by function words; computers have no direct links between speech sounds and movement patterns and they do not have the instantly integrated neural patterning underlying thought - they necessarily operate serially and hierarchically. Adults find the acquisition of a new language much more difficult than children do because they are already neural committed to the link between the words of their first language and the elements in their conceptual store. A second language being acquired by an adult is in direct competition for neural space with the network structures established for the first language.


In addition to the Review and Original Articles by invited speakers, we are inviting you to submit a relevant research paper on THE CHILD AND THE WORLD: How Children Acquire Language for consideration. Papers will be subject to normal peer review and must comply with the Guide for Authors.

To submit papers to the “THE CHILD AND THE WORLD: How Children Acquire Language” Special Topic, please go to http://www.cscanada.net. With your submission, please state clearly to the editor that your manuscripts are submitted to the Special Topic THE CHILD AND THE WORLD: How Children Acquire Language.


Related Journals (Special issue):

Studies in Literature and Language, ISSN 1923-1555 [Print]; ISSN 1923-1563 [Online]



Related Articles:

Allott, R. 1989. Diversity of Languages and the Motor Theory. In Studies in Language Origins III. Benjamins.

Allott, R. 1992. The Motor Theory of Language: Origin and Function. In Language Origin: A Multidisciplinary Approach. ed. by Jan Wind et al.

Bates, E. 2000. On the nature and nurture of language. In E. Bizzi, P. Calissano, & V. Volterra (Eds.), The brain of homo sapiens. Rome: G.


Bickerton, D. 1990. Language and Species. Chicago: UP

Bickerton, B. 1981. Roots of Language. Ann Arbor: Karoma.

Brosnahan, L.F. 1961. The Sounds of Language: An Inquiry into the role of genetic factors in the development of sound systems. Cambridge: Heffer.

Chomsky, N. 1988. Language and Problems of Knowledge. MIT.

Chomsky, N. 1993. The View from Building 20. In K. Hale and S.J. Keyser eds. MIT.

Chomsky, N. 2000. New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind. CUP.

Deacon, T.W. 1997. The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain.Norton

Fromkin, V. 1997.Some thoughts about the brain/mind language interface. Lingua 100, 3-27.

Greenfield, P.M. 1991. Language, tools and brain: The ontogeny and phylogeny of hierarchically organized sequential behavior. Behavioral and

Brain Sciences 14: 531-595.

Hockett, C. F. 1987. Refurbishing our foundations: Elementary linguistics from an advanced point of view. Benjamins.

Holden, C. 2004. The Origin of Speech. Science 303:1316-1319

Hornstein, N. 1995. Logical Form: From GB to Minimalism. Oxford: Blackwell