John Hopkins University (USA) – Premier séminaire le 10 mars 2016

Mme Géraldine Legendre – Department of Cognitive Science – Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore (USA) est le deuxième professeur invité du Labex EFL dans le cadre de la Chaire Internationale 2016.Vous trouverez ci-après le détail des séminaires qu’elle donnera en mars 2016.

Plus d’informations sur le Professeur Legendre ici


Early acquisition of morphosyntax

Venue / Lieu : Institut pluridisciplinaire des Saints Pères – 45, rue des Sts Pères – 75270 Paris cedex 06 / Salle R229 (2ème étage)

Research in early acquisition of morphosyntax is characterized by strong theoretical views on both the abstractness of the linguistic representations held by very young children and the developmental path their grammars follow as they evolve towards mature grammars. The four proposed seminar lectures focus on evaluating our current understanding of both questions from a cross-linguistic and a multi-dimensional methodological perspective. The acquisition between the ages of 14 months and 4 years of subject-verb agreement in number —a central non-local dependency in natural language— and related topics provides a unifying thread connecting the lectures. Three behavioral signatures will be discussed: production, sensitivity to grammaticality, and comprehension. Overall, the discussion will foster a general view of very early morphosyntactic acquisition as a gradual development from surface-based statistical representations around the age of 14 months to fully abstract representations by 24 months. The lectures will be of interest to researchers working either on morphophonology (Strand 1) or syntax (Strand 2) and psycholinguists interested in developmental issues (Strand 4), and include some research conducted in part in collaboration with Thierry Nazzi/LPP (and partly funded by the operation “acquisition of SV agreement” of  Strand 4).

Lecture 1: The theoretical debate date :  Thursday 10th March 2016 – 16h-18h

The seminar opens with a review of the main alternative theoretical perspectives on the early acquisition of morphosyntax, e.g. generative vs. usage-based approaches, with a supporting sample of studies. The debate surrounding the early abstractness of linguistic representations is examined in detail in the context of the acquisition of liaison in French, which informs the discussion of subject-verb agreement in later lectures. Results from experimental studies of liaison are compared with corpus-based studies

Lecture 2:  Production – date :  Thursday 17th March 2016 – 16h-18h

One strand of the theoretical debate concerns the question of whether (simple) sentence-level representations are complete by about age 2, consisting of subject, verb phrase, and tense and person/number agreement inflection, or whether they are only partially complete, often lacking inflectional categories and their structural correlates. The phenomenon of uninflected verbs in early production and its theoretical significance is examined cross-linguistically with corpus data from French, English, Dutch, and Hungarian. Priming effects in the elicited production of English auxiliaries at age 2 are also presented, which point to early abstractness of the relevant representations.

Lecture 3:  Sensitivity to grammaticality – date :  Thursday 24th March 2016  – 16h-18h

The question of the developmental path in early acquisition is first examined on the basis of a series of headturn preference studies in French, which document a change in young children’s preference for (un)grammatical subject-verb agreement between the ages of 14 and 24 months from familiarity preference at 14 months to a novelty preference at 15 and 18 months and back again, from familiarity at 21 months to a novelty preference at 24 months. The interpretation of these two phases in terms of abstractness of the representations —surface-based vs. feature-based dependencies—is discussed. Evidence from pre-linguistic conceptual knowledge of ‘one’ vs. ‘more than one’ will be incorporated to the discussion.

Lecture 4: Comprehension – date :  Friday 1st April 2016 15h – 17h

The question of the developmental path of early acquisition is further examined on the basis of a series of cross-linguistic comprehension studies in the lab, using the same visual stimuli and a number of alternative methodologies: intermodal preferential looking, pointing, and eye-tracking. The languages targeted include French, Spanish, and English. The interpretation of the results focuses on the perceptual constraints that shape the learners’ intake of the input they are exposed to early on.

Liens vers les vidéos des séminaires :