Strand 4: Representation and treatment of the language in a “Lifespan” perspective (manager : T. Nazzi – LPP Paris 5)

The research project of Strand 4 (Languages in Acquisition) is comparative at several levels.

1) We explore a large range of linguistic levels, from acoustics to (morpho-syntax, including phonetics/phonology, the lexicon and the semantic system (and their integration).

2) We are interested in combining different research approaches, from more linguistic studies exploring structure/representation to more psycholinguistic studies exploring the processes involved in early language perception, comprehension, and production.

3) We adopt a lifespan perspective, again with a focus on early language acquisition in infancy, but also exploring second language acquisition given our findings of a gradation between precocious simultaneous bilingualism, early sequential bilingualism and the acquisition of a second language in adulthood.

4) We will continue setting up collaborations to favor a cross-linguistic approach, the only way to disentangle the language-general and language-specific aspects of language acquisition and processing.

5) We will also continue our comparison of acquisition and processing in different populations, including atypical development in order to chart each population’s specific acquisition trajectory, and to explore (limits on) plasticity.

6) Our research will aim at specifying both the mechanisms involved in language acquisition/processing, and also their neural bases, an approach that requires the combined use of our behavioral and brain imaging techniques.

To conduct these studies, we are equipped with the major behavioral techniques (HPP, habituation…), eyetracking, EEG and NIRS techniques. Moreover, all projects will be jointly conducted by researchers from different labs, having complementary expertise (psychologists, developmentalists, neuroscientists, phoneticians, syntacticians…), thanks to the work conducted in LABEX so far, which allowed the emergence of new research synergies.

Several new aspects will be developed in Strand 4. The first one relates to the inclusion of the study of the links between early auditory and speech processing (TYPMP2), thus extending the scope of the linguistic-related levels we study. Second, we will work on better characterizing and understanding of the role of input in acquisition, taking advantage of the recently-bought LENA recorders (in coll. with Strand 7). The third one pertains to understanding individual variability (when many studies focus on group effects), in particular with the goal of exploring how individual performance in early speech perception/comprehension tasks (partly) is related to early input, other early linguistic (babbling, lexical development..) and cognitive abilities (for example, attention), and how it predicts later linguistic outcomes (DD1). This will add to our work on atypical language acquisition (preterm infants, deaf infants/children with auditory and visual deficits, children with dyslexia…; DD4). Fourth, we will continue to explore how language is acquired in bi- or multi-lingual environment, which offers a window on plasticity in typical language acquisition (DD2). Fifth, we will continue to explore language acquisition in French (TYPMP1- TYPMP3, TYPMP5, TYPSS1-TYPSS3), in comparison with how it resembles/differs from acquisition in other languages, in order to determine language-general and language-specific determinants of language acquisition, which has important implications for models of language acquisition and processing. New lines of work will extend research in language acquisition to languages rarely/never explored. Based on the joint expertise of developmental psycholinguists and creolist linguists, we will reflect on the potential links between language acquisition and language emergence, focusing on Mauritian and Haitian creoles (DD3). Based on the joint expertise of developmental psycholinguists and Africanist linguists, we will explore language acquisition in some African languages (for example, Yoruba) typologically different from the languages that are usually studies in language acquisition (TYPMP4).

Strand 4 New Operations (2020-2025)

TYPMP1 Neuroimaging of newborn speech processing and the role of prenatal experience
Judit Gervain (INCC)

TYPMP2 Acoustics of speech
Laurianne Cabrera (INCC)

TYPMP3 Segmental and tonal processing in early development
Thierry Nazzi (INCC)

TYPMP4 Taking advantage of the typological diversity in African languages
Thierry Nazzi (INCC)
Marc Van De Velde (Llacan)

TYPMP5 The role of morphological and graphotactic knowledge in spelling acquisition
Sébastien Pacton (LMC)

TYPSS1 Non-verbal social signals in the lifespan
Jonathan Ginzburg (LLF)

TYPSS2 Meaning in early lexical and visual processing
Pia Rämä (INCC)

TYPSS3 Morphosyntactic acquisition and processing
Judit Gervain (INCC) – Carla Soares-Jesel (LLF)

DD1 Understanding individual variability in typical language acquisition
Thierry Nazzi (INCC)

DD2 Impact of bilingual environment on language acquisition and processing
Ranka Bijeljac-Babic (Université de Poitiers / INCC)

DD3 Language formation, acquisition and processing:
The case of Creole languages
Guillaume Fon Sing (LLF) – Barbara Hemforth (LLF)

DD4 Atypical development
Laurianne Cabrera (INCC)