Nijmegen Lectures 2018, February 26-28

26 February 2018 10:00 - 27 February 2018 16:30
Nijmegen Lectures
Understanding how children learn language: What progress has been made since 1965?

Lecturer: Prof Elena Lieven

University of Manchester and ESRC LuCiD Centre
https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/elena.lieven.html

 

Public lectures: 10:00 - 11:30
Radboud University Nijmegen, Aula, Comeniuslaan 2, Nijmegen


Discussion sessions: 14:00 - 16:30
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Room 163, Wundtlaan 1, Nijmegen

The Nijmegen Lectures include a poster session on topics related to the 2018 Nijmegen Lectures' theme. We invite abstract submissions for posters, particularly from junior researchers. 

Abstract submission is now closed.

  •     Poster session: 27th February 2018 16:30-18:00
  •     Location: 1st floor landing, MPI for Psycholinguistics
Where and when:

Feb 26-28, 2018

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Wundtlaan 1, 6525 XD Nijmegen

Organizers:
Christina Bergmann
Susanne Brouwer
Saoradh Favier
Caroline Rowland
Tineke Snijders
Connie de Vos
Contact:
nanjo.bogdanowicz@mpi.nl
Program & Abstracts

Lecturer: Elena Lieven

Understanding how children learn language: What progress has been made since 1965?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Lecture 1    Language development and Nativism: A historical perspective on whether we have been going round in circles

10:00 - 11:30 Radboud University Nijmegen, Aula, Comeniuslaan 2, Nijmegen

Abstract: The cognitive revolution kicked off a major research programme addressing how children learn language.  In opposition to previous approaches centered around learning theory, new proposals based on the idea of an innate syntactic module were advanced.  Among proposed evidence for this was the suggested ‘poverty of the stimulus’, brain localisation for language, a critical period for learning, the separation of cognitive and language development and, more recently, genetic evidence.  I will take each of these proposals in turn and assess how they have fared after nearly 60 years of research.  I will end with suggestions from my theoretical perspective as to how I think research in these fields could inform a psychologically-realistic, developmental theory.

Afternoon Discussion: Alternative perspectives on language development and nativism

14:00 -16:30. Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Conference room 163, Wundtlaan 1, Nijmegen

Discussants:
James McQueen, Radboud University Nijmegen
Peter Hagoort, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen
Simon E. Fisher, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Lecture 2   Usage-based approaches: How far have they got us?

10:00 - 11:30 Radboud University Nijmegen, Aula, Comeniuslaan 2, Nijmegen

Abstract: Approaches that emphasise the role of the language that the child hears and uses have made notable progress in characterising language acquisition as a developmental process.  On these approaches, children extract a network of form-function mappings from the input,  which becomes increasingly productive and general.  I will argue that many of the systematic errors that children make can be explained in terms of input frequencies and without recourse to abstract, rule-based accounts.  I will outline the evidence for this position using corpus, experimental and modelling data,  and use this to address the comprehension-production asymmetry.  I will end by raising a number of unresolved issues relating to the nature of representation and, relatedly, to issues of generalisation, productivity and abstraction.

Afternoon Debate: The input is important but we cannot ignore innate constraints

14:00 -16:30. Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Conference room 163, Wundtlaan 1, Nijmegen

Discussants: 
Petra Hendriks, University of Groningen
Anna Theakston, University of Manchester

16:30 - 18:00 Poster presentations, MPI for Psycholinguistics, 1st floor

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lecture 3   Comparative research on language development: How to find universals and particulars?

10:00 - 11:30 Radboud University Nijmegen, Aula, Comeniuslaan 2, Nijmegen

Abstract: How much does focusing on a small set of languages and cultures impede our understanding of how children learn language?  I will address the question of universals and particulars in the precursors to language learning as well as the challenges set by the range of pragmatic, semantic and syntactic variation in the world’s languages and cultures. I will cover the considerable advances that have been made by comparisons between relatively closely related languages. Finally, I will address the methodological and theoretical challenges set by ‘exotic’ languages and ‘non-weird’ cultures and attempt to suggest how they might be met.

Afternoon Discussion: What sort of languages should we study and why?

14:00 -16:30. Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Conference room 163, Wundtlaan 1, Nijmegen

Discussants:
Bencie Woll, University College London
Ludovica Serratrice, University of Reading
Stephen C. Levinson, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen

Lecturer & Discussants

 Lecturer Elena Lieven

Lecturer Elena Lieven

Elena Lieven is Professor in the Division of Human Communication, Development and Hearing at the University of Manchester.  She completed her undergraduate degree, and her Ph.D. on individual differences in early language development, in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, and then moved to an academic position at the University of Manchester. In 1998, she was invited to work for the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, while also running the Max Planck Child Study Centre in Manchester.  From 1996 – 2005, she was Editor of the Journal of Child Language

In 2012, she moved back to Manchester where she is Director of the Child Study Centre and, since 2014,  Managing Director of the ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD: www.lucid.ac.uk) ; a collaborative research centre established across the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool and Lancaster, funded by a 5-year grant from the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). 

Elena’s principal areas of research are: The emergence and construction of grammar; the relationship between input characteristics and the process of language development; and variation in children’s communicative and linguistic environments.

The discussants for Monday, February 26, 2018

James McQueen is Professor of Speech and Learning at Radboud University, Nijmegen. He studied Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. He is a Principal Investigator at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour (Centre for Cognition) and is an affiliated researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. His research focusses on learning and processing in spoken language: How do listeners learn the sounds and words of their native and non-native languages, and how do they recognize them? His research on speech learning concerns initial acquisition processes and ongoing processes of perceptual adaptation. His research on speech processing addresses core computational problems (such as the variability and segmentation problems). He has a multi-disciplinary perspective on psycholinguistics, combining insights from cognitive psychology, phonetics, linguistics, and neuroscience.

Peter Hagoort is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, and the founding Director of the Donders Institute, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN, 1999). In addition, he is Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Radboud University Nijmegen. His own research interests relate to the domain of the human language faculty and how it is instantiated in the brain. In his research he applies neuroimaging techniques such as ERP, MEG, PET and fMRI to investigate the language system and its impairments, as in aphasia, dyslexia and autism. The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts Sciences (KNAW) awarded him with the Hendrik Mullerprijs in 2003. In 2004 he was awarded by the Dutch Queen with the "Knighthood of the Dutch Lion". In 2005 he received the NWO-Spinoza Prize (M€ 1.5). In 2007 the University of Glasgow awarded him with an honorary doctorate in science for his contributions to the cognitive neuroscience of language. In 2008 he was awarded with the Heymans Prize. In 2012 the KNAW acknowledged his career contribution to cognitive neuroscience with the Academy Professorship Prize (M€ 1.0). Peter Hagoort is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen, and the Academia Europaea.

Simon E. Fisher is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, and Professor of Language and Genetics at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. Simon Fisher obtained his Natural Sciences degree from Cambridge University, and his Human Genetics D.Phil. from Oxford University. From 1996-2002, as a postdoctoral researcher at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) in Oxford, he carried out genomic investigations of neurodevelopmental disorders such as dyslexia and specific language impairment, and was co-discoverer of FOXP2, the first gene to be implicated in speech and language acquisition. From 2002-2010, Simon Fisher was a Royal Society Research Fellow running his own laboratory at the WTCHG, where his team used state-of-the-art methods to uncover how language-related genes impact on brain development. His research has a strong interdisciplinary remit, integrating data from genetics/genomics, psychology, neuroscience, developmental biology and evolutionary anthropology. Simon Fisher's awards include the Francis Crick Medal and Lecture, and the Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize.

The discussants for Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Petra Hendriks is Professor of Semantics and Cognition at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen. She obtained a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Groningen in 1995. Between 1993 and 2005, she developed and taught in the B.Sc. and M.Sc. programmes of Cognitive Science and Engineering, before returning to the Faculty of Arts. There she led several research projects, including a project on asymmetries between comprehension and production in child language funded by a Vici grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded in 2006. Collaborating with researchers in artificial intelligence, psychology, philosophy and medical sciences, she aims to bridge the gap between formal models of language and empirical research on language development and use. Her research focuses on semantics, pragmatics and language development and addresses the interplay between linguistic and cognitive processes in typical and atypical language development, including language development in children with autism and children with cochlear implants. She has been a member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW) since 2013. In 2016, she was elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

Anna Theakston is Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Manchester UK, Co-Director of the ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD), and Treasurer for the International Association for the Study of Child Language (IASCL). Her research interests span multiple areas of children’s acquisition of language including: early communicative gesture, morphological development, multiword speech, complex syntax, and the interplay between language and other cognitive processes. Using multi-method and cross-linguistic approaches, much of her work has focussed on the relation between children’s input and their developing linguistic knowledge.

The discussants for Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bencie Woll has been involved in research on sign language for nearly 40 years, starting with research at the University of Bristol where she was a co-founder of the Centre for Deaf Studies, pioneering research on the linguistics of British Sign Language and on Deaf Studies. She moved to City University London in 2005 to take up the first ever chair in this field in Britain. From City University London she moved in 2005 to University College London (UCL), where she is a Professor of Sign Language and Deaf Studies. In 2006, together with colleagues at UCL and City, she founded DCAL (the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre), and served as Director until 2016. Her research and teaching interests embrace a wide range of topics related to sign language, including the linguistics of British Sign Language (BSL) and other sign languages, the history and sociolinguistics of BSL and the Deaf community, the development of BSL in young children, and sign language and the brain, including developmental and acquired sign language impairments.

Ludovica Serratrice started her career as a simultaneous interpreter in Italy before obtaining an MA in language acquisition from the University of Essex, and a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Edinburgh. Ludovica Serratrice then joined the University of Manchester where she developed her research interests in language development in bilingual children with a particular focus on linguistic phenomena that cut across language structure and language use; issues of discourse-pragmatic constraints on referential and syntactic choice have featured prominently in her work. Joining the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism at the University of Reading in 2016 has given Ludovica Serratrice the opportunity to work closely with speech and language therapists and teachers on public engagement to raise awareness of multilingual language development and of developmental language disorder. Her current work with bilingual children includes a longitudinal study of determinants of listening comprehension, the development of morphological and syntactic awareness, and peer-to-peer communication with monolinguals.

Stephen C. Levinson is Emeritus Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, and Professor of Comparative Linguistics at Radboud University Nijmegen. He is the author of over 300 publications on language and cognition. His research focusses on language diversity and its implications for theories of human cognition. Language is the only animal communication system that differs radically in form and meaning across social groups of the same species, a fact that has been neglected in the cognitive sciences. His work attempts both to grasp what this diversity is all about, and to exploit it as a way of discovering the role that language plays in our everyday cognition. The ability of children to master any of these diverse languages may owe less to native knowledge of language structure than to rich universals of interactive language use, which allow infants to bootstrap up into the local language.

Recommended reading

Theme

Understanding how children learn language: What progress has been made since 1965?
Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., & Lieven, E.V.M. (2014). Child Language Acquisition: Why Universal Grammar doesn't help. Language, 90(3), e53-e90. DOI:10.1353/lan.2014.0051 

Lecture 1

Language development and nativism: A historical perspective on whether we have been going round in circles

Hauser, M.D., Chomsky, N.,& Fitch, W.T.(2002). The faculty of language: What is it, who has it, and how did it evolve?. Science, 298(5598), 1569-1579. DOI:10.1126/science.298.5598.1569

Pinker, S.,& Jackendoff, R.(2005). The faculty of language: What's special about it?. Cognition, 95(2), 201-236. DOI:10.1016/j.cognition.2004.08.004

Lecture 2

Usage-based approaches: How far have they got us?

Tomasello, M.(2000). Do young children have adult syntactic competence?. Cognition, 74(3), 209-253. DOI: 10.1016/S0010-0277(99)00069-4

Fisher, C.(2002). The role of abstract syntactic knowledge in language acquisition: A reply to Tomasello (2000). Cognition, 82(3), 259-278. DOI:
10.1016/S0010-0277(01)00159-7

Lecture 3

Comparative research on language development: How to find universals and particulars?

Stoll, S., & Bickel, B.(2013). Capturing diversity in language acquisition research. In: Bickel, B., Grenoble, L.A., Peterson, D.A., & Timberlake, A. (Eds.). Language typology and historical contingency. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co., 195-216.

Freudenthal, D., Pine, J.M., Jones, G., & Gobet, F.(2015). Simulating the cross-linguistic pattern of Optional Infinitive errors in children's declaratives and Wh-questions. Cognition, 143, 61-76. DOI:10.1016/j.cognition.2015.05.027

Lecture videos

Monday February 26, Lecture 1

Language development and Nativism: A historical perspective on whether we have been going round in circles

Tuesday February 28, Lecture 2

Usage-based approaches: How far have they got us?

 

Wednesday February 28, Lecture 3

Comparative research on language development: How to find universals and particulars?

 

 

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