In recent linguistic theory, there has been an explosion of detailed studies of language variation. This volume applies such recent analyses to the study of child language, developing new approaches to change and variation in child grammars and revealing both early knowledge in several areas of grammar and a period of extended development in others. Topics dealt with include question formation, "subjectless" sentences, object gaps, rules for missing subject interpretation, passive sentences, rules for pronoun interpretation and argument structure. Leading developmental linguists and psycholinguists show how linguistic theory can help define and inform a theory of the dynamics of language development and its biological basis, meeting the growing need for such studies in programs in linguistics, psychology, and cognitive science.
"The authors and the editors in this volume are to be commended for trying to come to terms with real-life data (i.e. experimental and naturalistic observable data, combined with the intuitions of the researcher), rather than abstract constructs exclusively, in real-time development, as well as for their attempt to deal with biological maturation, non-grammatical constraints, processing limitations, pragmatics, etc. "
Contents: J. Weissenborn, H. Goodluck, T. Roeper, Introduction: Old and New Problems in the Study of Language Acquisition. S.W. Felix, Language Acquisition as a Maturational Process. H. Clahsen, Learnability Theory and the Problem of Development in Language Acquisition. R.J. Stevenson, Maturation and Learning: Linguistic Knowledge and Performance: A Commentary on Clahsen and Felix. J.H. Randall, The Catapult Hypothesis: An Approach to Unlearning. J. Pustejovsky, Principles versus Criteria: On Randall's Catapult Hypothesis. H. Goodluck, D. Behne, Development in Control and Extraction. C. Jones, Comments on Goodluck and Behne. T. Roeper, J. de Villiers, Ordered Decisions in the Acquisition of Wh-Questions. A. Radford, Comments on Roeper and de Villiers. N. Hyams, A Reanalysis of Null Subjects in Child Language. J. Weissenborn, Null Subjects in Early Grammars: Implications for Parameter-setting Theories. D. Lillo-Martin, Comments on Hyams and Weissenborn: On Licensing and Identification.