Post written by Dr. Lei Xuan and Dr. Christine Dollaghan based on an article in Journal of Child Language
Our research addressed questions about the kinds of words that appear in the early vocabularies of bilingual children. Evidence from some languages, including English, has shown that young children acquire words for people and things before words that label actions and attributes or words that have grammatical functions. However, the hypothesis of a universal preference for nouns (i.e., a “noun bias”) in early lexical development has been challenged by studies suggesting that children acquiring languages such as Korean and Mandarin Chinese may show a weaker preference for nouns.
We used a unique research design to examine the extent of noun bias in 50 bilingual toddlers who were simultaneously acquiring English and Mandarin, two strikingly different languages that are believed to fall near the extremes of the noun bias continuum. By studying noun bias within each child’s English and Mandarin vocabularies we hoped to minimize the threat of confounding due to individual differences in cognitive and sociodemographic factors that could affect the noun preference. By focusing on children whose parent-reported vocabularies in both English and Mandarin fell between 50 and 300 words we hoped to control for variations in noun bias at different vocabulary sizes. By recruiting 50 children, we ensured that statistical power was adequate for our analyses. Our objective was to provide the clearest test to date of the hypothesis that the degree of noun bias differs in these two languages. Specifically, we hypothesized that the mean percentage of nouns in English would exceed the mean percentage of nouns in Mandarin by at least 15%, a value selected based on a synthesis of evidence from monolingual children in five languages.
Our results showed a mean difference in the percentage of English and Mandarin nouns of 16%, providing evidence that the preference for nouns was greater in these children’s English than in their Mandarin vocabularies. Although nouns predominated the total number of words and the 50 most frequently produced words in both languages, the most frequent 50 words in these children’s English vocabularies included substantially more nouns and substantially fewer verbs than did the most frequent words in their Mandarin vocabularies.
The findings converge with previous findings from monolingual children and suggest that not only universal cognitive and perceptual factors but also cross-linguistic variations in language input should be considered in understanding the composition of early vocabularies. The within-subject bilingual design is likely to be a fruitful approach to understanding the influences on children’s lexical development.
Access the full article without charge until January 31st 2014 here.
by Louise Cummings
Nottingham Trent University, UK
As academic researchers, linguists are increasingly being asked to demonstrate the impact of their work on the lives of individuals and on the growth of national economies. There is one field within linguistics where impact is more readily demonstrated than in any other. This is the study of the many ways in which language and communication can break down or fail to develop normally in children and adults with communication disorders. These disorders are the focus of a recently published handbook, the Cambridge Handbook of Communication Disorders, which brings together 30 chapters on all aspects of the classification, assessment and treatment of communication disorders. The chapters in this volume will speak for themselves. My purpose in this short extract is to demonstrate how, in an age of impact, the case for the academic study and clinical management of communication disorders could not be more persuasive.
I begin by revisiting a quotation which I included in the preface to the handbook. It is a comment which was made in 2006 by Lord Ramsbotham, the then Chief Inspector of Prisons in the UK. He remarked: ‘When I went to the young offender establishment at Polmont, I was walking with the governor, who told me that if, by some mischance, he had to get rid of all his staff, the last one out of the gate would be his speech and language therapist’. This statement focuses attention quite forcefully on an issue which clinicians and educationalists have known for years: the remediation of impoverished language and communication skills can have a significant, positive impact on one’s life chances and experiences in a range of areas. These areas include social integration, psychological well-being and occupational and educational success. Conversely, the neglect of language and communication impairments presents a significant barrier to academic achievement, vocational functioning and social participation. The area of professional practice which aims to mitigate these harmful consequences of communication disorders – speech and language therapy (UK) or speech-language pathology (US) – has played an increasingly important role in recent years in raising awareness of these disorders. That increased awareness has been felt not just among members of the public in the form of greater tolerance and understanding of communication disorders, but also in policy areas which have the power to transform the provision and delivery of speech and language therapy services.
“It is clear that a society which neglects communication disorders among its citizens can expect to sustain significant economic harm“.
If the human impact of communication disorders does not persuade the reader of the merits of this area of academic and clinical work, then perhaps the economic implications of these disorders will make the case even more convincingly. A report1 commissioned by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in the UK and published in 2010 found that speech and language therapy across aphasia, specific language impairment and autism delivers an estimated net benefit of £765 million to the British economy each year. In 2000, the economic cost of communication disorders in the US was estimated to be between $154 billion and $186 billion per year, which is equal to 2.5% to 3% of the Gross National Product.2 It is clear that a society which neglects communication disorders among its citizens can expect to sustain significant economic harm. This is in addition to the abdication of any type of social responsibility to the welfare of its people.
1 Marsh, K., Bertranou, E., Suominen, H. and Venkatachalam, M. (2010) An Economic Evaluation of Speech and Language Therapy. Matrix Evidence.
2 Ruben, R.J. (2000) ‘Redefining the survival of the fittest: Communication disorders in the 21st century’, Laryngoscope, 110 (2 Pt 1): 241-245.
The Cambridge Handbook of Communication Disorders, is now available from Cambridge University Press.
Posted on behalf of Xavier Gutiérrez
Xavier Gutiérrez is an assistant professor of Applied Linguistics and Spanish at the University of Alberta in Canada. His latest article, published in Studies in Second Language Acquisition, published by Cambridge University Press, can be accessed today at no charge until October 21, 2013.
Researchers in the field of second language acquisition (SLA) have long been interested in finding out what type of mental representations of linguistic knowledge second language learners develop and how. In short, knowledge of language may be represented in two ways: as implicit, unconscious knowledge—the type usually involved in spontaneous language use such as casual conversations—or as explicit, conscious knowledge, which is involved in more controlled uses of language such as writing. Progress in this area has arguably been slow mainly due to challenges in obtaining valid and reliable measures of implicit and explicit knowledge.
One of the most popular instruments used in SLA to measure linguistic knowledge are grammaticality judgment tests (GJTs). GJTs typically consist of a number of grammatical and ungrammatical sentences, and learners are asked to indicate which ones are correct and which ones are not. Additionally, learners are sometimes asked to identify the error, correct it, and/or describe the grammatical rule violated in the sentence. In GJTs in which learners are only asked to determine the grammaticality of the sentences, there are still questions as to which type of knowledge the tests actually measure.
In recent years, several studies have used factor analysis to determine the validity of measures of implicit and explicit knowledge. Regarding GJTs, these studies have found that tests in which learners have time constraints to judge the sentences (i.e., timed GJTs) constitute measures of implicit knowledge, whereas tests without time limits (i.e., untimed GJTs) are measures of explicit knowledge. Additionally, some studies have noted that, in untimed GJTs, only ungrammatical sentences actually measure explicit knowledge. The study reported in this article takes this issue a step further and examines differences between both types of task stimuli (i.e., grammatical and ungrammatical sentences) in timed and untimed GJTs. The results of the study show that there are statistically significant differences between the learners’ responses to grammatical and ungrammatical sentences in both types of tests and that such differences can be interpreted as learners resorting to their implicit knowledge when judging grammatical sentences and to their explicit knowledge when judging ungrammatical ones. Furthermore, it was found that both time pressure and task stimulus have a significant effect on the learners’ performance on the GJTs. Given the popularity of GJTs in SLA, this study makes a potentially meaningful contribution to the debate on measures of implicit and explicit knowledge.
The development of the grammatical system in early second language acquisition
Post written by Anke Lenzing
A central issue in SLA research concerns the question of what kind of linguistic resources are available to the L2 learner at the very beginning of the L2 acquisition process. My thesis sets out to explore this question. It aims at providing an explanatory account of the initial mental grammatical system and its development in early L2 learners of English in a formal context.
When examining the oral performance data of early L2 learners, it can be observed that initially, their speech production is characterised by single words, formulaic sequences and ungrammatical structures. These structures do not only deviate syntactically from the target language pattern; they are also semantically ill-formed and diverge from the target language as regards the arguments that the learners express; i.e. the utterances contain either too many or too few arguments or entirely different arguments than those the learner intends to express.
To account for these utterances, I propose a theoretically motivated model of the L2 initial mental grammatical system as well as specific hypotheses concerning its development, which are based on Lexical Functional Grammar and Processability Theory. The core claims are that 1) the initial L2 mental grammatical system is constrained semantically, i.e. at the level of argument structure, and syntactically; i.e. at the level of constituent structure and that 2) the L2 lexicon is gradually annotated in the process of L2 acquisition.
To test these hypotheses, I conducted a combined cross-sectional and longitudinal study focussing on the spontaneous oral speech production of 24 German primary school learners of English as an L2. I carried out linguistic profile analyses of the learners’ speech samples by analysing the morphological and syntactic structures in the data by means of distributional analyses. I also conducted distributional analyses of the argument structure of the lexical verbs occurring in the learner data.
The results of the analyses support the hypotheses, as they indicate that 1) the grammatical system of early L2 learners is highly constrained at the level of both constituent and argument structure and that 2) the L2 lexicon is being successively annotated. It can be seen that initially, the learners rely predominantly on formulaic sequences and that in the course of SLA, there is a development away from formulaic utterances towards a more productive use of the target language.
A revised version of my thesis has been published by John Benjamins. For more details about my research and references please visit http://kw.uni-paderborn.de/institute-einrichtungen/institut-fuer-anglistik-und-amerikanistik/personal/lenzing/.
Visit the Language Teaching homepage to read more about the 2013 Brumfit Award
Congratulations, your paper has been accepted into a journal! What happens next? Peter Moorby, Production Editor for Cambridge Journals, helps demystify the article production process and explain what happens from submission to final publication.
Part of what makes journal publishing so interesting is that each journal has its own quirks and characteristics, but papers normally follow the same general process:
Receipt of files
We receive your manuscript and source files from the journal’s editorial office. Increasingly this is via electronic peer-review and submission systems, which can connect directly to the tracking systems which help us manage the production process.
Your manuscript is edited for journal style, consistency and grammatical errors. You might be contacted by the copyeditor at this stage to resolve any unclear sentences or other queries, or these may recorded on your proof. For some journals, copyediting is done by the editorial office; for others, we outsource this and choose copyeditors based on their subject/language expertise.
Your copyedited paper is sent to the typesetters to be encoded as an XML file - which will generate the online html version, the pdf version, and the printed pages (where applicable) of your article. The content is composed into properly formatted pages, and any figures are converted for print and online reproduction. Metadata is added to the online file to make your article more visible to search engines and to give the correct information to indexing services.
The proofs of your paper are sent to you by email alert (and also to the editors, copyeditors and other proofreaders – depending on the journal). For the majority of cases this will be your only chance to correct your proof, so please check through it carefully! The first page of the proofs will give instructions on where to return your corrections, as this will differ.
Your corrections will be collated by the copyeditor, editor, publisher or the typesetters. After your proof has been revised by the typesetter, it will be checked to ensure all corrections have been made.
Depending on the journal, your article will be published
• when the editors select it for an issue
• or it will be published ‘FirstView’ on Cambridge Journals Online as soon as it has been corrected.
For issue publication, the editorial office supply a running order at which point the cover is created, all the articles are collected together and final page numbers are added.
In both cases you will receive an automated email alert with a link to a pdf copy of your article.
We aim to produce your paper according to our high standards with the maximum speed, accuracy and efficiency. Here are some common issues and how to avoid them!
Figure quality and format
To ensure the optimum quality for print and online publication, we have guidelines on how you should submit your figures. Please also refer to the journal’s instructions for contributors as these may list additional requirements for figures. Following these guidelines will avoid delays later on.
Checking author names on proofs
The distinction between surnames can be ambiguous, therefore the typesetters will highlight surnames on your proof. Please check they have been correctly identified, that all names are spelt correctly and are in the correct order. This information is used for indexing purposes, such as PubMed entries, and unfortunately it is not always possible to correct this after publication.
Transfer of copyright / licence to publish
As part of the publication process, you will need to complete a transfer of copyright form or licence to publish (download from the journal homepage on Cambridge journals online). There are separate forms if you wish to publish Open Access. To avoid delays to publication, please ensure you complete this form and return according to the instructions on the form, as we cannot publish your paper without it.
Open Access Publishing at Cambridge
Post written by Dr. Cristina D. Dye based on an article in Journal of Linguistics
Since the early studies in language acquisition, scholars have noted that certain grammatical elements, among which auxiliaries and verb inflections, often appear to be missing in early child speech, with the result that child utterances sometimes exhibit verb forms with non-finite morphology in seemingly matrix clauses. This observation has led to a deprivationalist conception of child syntax.
In contrast with previous studies, this article explores the possibility that the child’s PHONOLOGY may considerably impact her overt realization of auxiliaries. Specifically, it examines the hypothesis that non-finite verbs in early speech are in fact attempted periphrastics (i.e., auxiliary/modal + non-finite verb) in which the auxiliaries are just reduced phonetically, often to the point where they remain unpronounced.
This study involved 28 normally-developing French-speaking children aged between 23 and 37 months. New observational data revealed a continuum in a given child’s phonetic realizations of auxiliaries. Children showed various levels of auxiliary reduction, suggesting that their non-finite verbs are best analyzed as being part of periphrastics involving an auxiliary form that represents the endpoint on this continuum, i.e. is (completely) deleted. Further examination of these verb forms showed that their semantics corresponds to the semantics of adult periphrastics. Additionally, the results of an experiment where children imitated sentences with either periphrastic or synthetic verbs showed that responses with non-finite verb forms were predominantly produced when the target sentence involved a periphrastic, rather than a synthetic verb.
These findings open the door to investigation of other factors that might affect auxiliary reduction (e.g., memory, sentential complexity, fine-grained syntax problems), other populations (bilingual children, SLI), and other grammatical elements (e.g., determiners, complementizers). They also invite new research into the specific aspect(s) of phonology that might account for child reduced/deleted auxiliaries (e.g., phonological realization processes, phonological representations, prosodic representations, production/articulation difficulties).
Read the entire article from issue 47/2 of Journal of Linguistics here.
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Post written by Pieter Muysken based on an article in the latest issue of Bilingualism
I am very happy and proud that my paper ‘Language contact outcomes as the result of bilingual optimization strategies’ was published in the journal Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, with some very interesting and challenging commentaries. The paper was in the making for more than a decade, and went through numerous versions. I think the journal asked for revisions about six times (final acceptance is a consolation for other authors perhaps in despair about a firm but just journal editor and very skeptical reviewers). I hope it will point people in new directions, even if it does not convince them, and stimulate new discussions.
If you ask me to summarize the paper, here goes:
Outcomes of language contact, like code-switching or Creole genesis, are not uniform, but vary, depending on the status and properties of the languages involved and the similarities between them. Thus there is a type of code-switching in which a single language plays the major role, and another type where speakers go back and forth between languages in a more balanced manner. Yet other types of switching involve very similar languages, which are blended together in inextricable ways. Similarly, in some Creole languages an originally African or Melanesian substrate language plays a major structural role, while others are more similar to a dominant European language that provided most of the vocabulary. Yet others resemble neither source language and seem the result of universal strategies. However, the patterns along which the outcomes of language contact vary are similar, I argue, across a number of different subfields in language contact, also including pidgin genesis, second language learning, bilingual processing, lexical and structural borrowing, bilingual interaction, etc. These patterns can be modeled into a single framework of speakers’ strategies, and interpreted grammatically using a version of Optimality Theory. As such it is one of several attempts to sue Optimality Theory to model language contact results.
Read the entire article ‘Language contact outcomes as the result of bilingual optimization strategies’ here.
Posted on behalf of Editors William Labov and Dennis Preston
Cambridge University Press is pleased to announce the launch of the new online-only Journal of Linguistic Geography (JLG). The journal’s goal is to open the flow of linguistic analysis using electronic formats (such as scalable maps and figures, searchable data sets, and embedded audio files) in a field that has long been blocked by technical factors. For all new subscribers, a comprehensive User Experience Guide provides an overview of the journal’s interactive capacities. Submissions to the journal are welcome and may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Queries are welcome, too.
The journal is an official publication of the International Conference on Methods in Dialectology. Editors Bill Labov (University of Pennsylvania) and Dennis R. Preston (Oklahoma State University) are supported by Technical Editor Bartłomiej Plichta (University of Minnesota). The full editorial board can be viewed here.
The Journal of Linguistic Geography: From Concept to Creation
The stacks of our libraries are filled with magnificent atlases of linguistic geography. File cabinets throughout the world are filled with papers that have never appeared, faced with the problem of reducing maps to small black-and-white versions that convey only a small part of the information in the original.
There will be no limit on the size of maps submitted to the Journal of Linguistic Geography; they will be viewed in their entirety with the panning and zooming options that are second nature to users of the internet. Color is as fundamental as size in cartography, and in electronic publication, color is no more difficult or expensive than black-and-white.
Even more crucial to analytical reading is the relation between map and text, which in print may require a back-and-forth paging operation that challenges memory and even lead to accepting (or rejecting) the author’s statement without making a point-by-point inspection. In the Journal of Linguistic Geography, maps and figures open in a new window, allowing the reader to make a direct comparison between what is said and what is shown.
A further advantage of the journal’s format is that of sound samples in the electronic page. They will not replace IPA notation, but rather serve to refine and encourage the use of phonetic notation.
Reading the Journal of Linguistic Geography will also show that technical innovations are not confined to modes of display. New developments in mathematical analysis of spatial patterns are represented and may include substantial appendices, since the space limitations of print journals do not apply.
So much for form. But what about content?
To put it simply, linguistic geography is concerned with the spatial differentiation of linguistic forms. Teachers of introductory linguistics find that students are fascinated with the fact there are regions nearby where speakers use ‘X’ to refer to what is (“rightly”) called ‘Y.’ This fascination with the facts of the matter impedes rather than encourages the development of our field as a branch of linguistic science. JLG hopes to mobilize those facts in pursuit of a better understanding of the nature of language structure and language change. Our interest is focused on those connections within language that reflect the impact of a given change on other members of the system. A submission that traces distribution of isolated forms or sounds will receive our full attention when it is woven into the fabric of relations that turn words into language.
We do not disprefer studies of the lexicon, but we encourage authors to display the use of a form against the background of competing and complimentary forms, showing what meanings are found for a given form as well as what forms are found for a given meaning.
Fields of structural relationships are most clearly delineated in phonology, and we would be surprised not to receive submissions dealing with the geography of chain shifts, splits and mergers, but we hope to deal with the geography of the full range of linguistic structures.
We invite studies of the perception of speech as well as production. We are interested in both how linguistic varieties across and within regions are heard and processed and how non-linguists perceive the spatial distribution of varieties, particularly when such studies shed light on the characteristics of language variation and change.
The fact that we are named the Journal of Linguistic Geography is not without significance, but the linguistics we appeal to is not just that of the internal relations of linguistic forms. It is also outwardly defined to include the social, historical and economic contexts in which language is formed and used. Thus we expect to find maps reflecting population growth and movement, out- and in-migration, political trends and voting records as well as highway and railroad networks.
Our Editorial Board comprises a group of distinguished linguists from throughout the world. Learn more about these board members and how their own published work illustrates research of the scope and quality we hope to feature in the journal.
by Julie Tetel Andresen
Duke University, North Carolina
My favorite words in Romanian are those of Turkish origin. Because parts of present-day Romania were under Ottoman rule for a long time, it’s natural that Romanian would have lexical borrowings from Turkish. One is the word for tulip. Now, tulips are not native to Holland. They are native to Central Asia, and in the eighteenth century there was a craze for tulips at the Ottoman court, and images of tulips could be found on clothing and furniture, while real tulips flourished in gardens and parks. Still today the tulip is a symbol for Turkey. The English word ‘tulip’ comes from the Turkish word tulbend ‘turban’ because the flower resembles the shape of a turban. However, the Turkish word is lâle, and the Romanian word is lalea.
Why do I like this word? Because it’s fun to say, especially in the plural: ‘tulips’ is lalele and ‘the tulips’ is lalelele. There’s ‘coffee’ cafea, ‘coffees’ cafele, and ‘coffees’ cafelele. Same goes for ‘hinge’ balama, plural ‘hinges’ balamale and ‘the hinges’ balamalele and for ‘crane (piece of construction equipment)’ macara, ‘cranes’ macarale and ‘cranes’ macaralele. Not all Turkish borrowings have the phonetic form that generates these plurals, and not all words in Romanian with this plural type come from Turkish, but most of them do.
The other reason I like Turkish borrowings in Romanian is they often come with nice semantic twists. The word belea is usually used in the plural belele and means ‘troubles,’ which is tinged almost, but not quite, with a sense of the ridiculous. When I think of ‘my troubles’ as belelele mele, they don’t seem so bad. And what could be better than the word beizadea ‘son of a bei, a high ranking Turkish official’? It would never be used in Romanian as a compliment, and we need such a word in English, because entitled spoiled brat doesn’t quite cover it.
Finally, there’s the Romanian word for ‘neighborhood, suburb’ mahala, and it, too, is freighted with negative connotations. The politică de mahala, which includes personal attacks and reckless speech, would characterize much of what’s gone on in Washington DC is recent years. Those readers with knowledge of Arabic will recognize the root halla ‘to lodge’ with the place prefix ma-, making a word that means something like ‘building.’ So, the Turkish borrowing is itself a borrowing from Arabic. This word was also borrowed into Persian and is immortalized in the name Taj Mahal, which means in Persian ‘best of buildings.’ So, in the western extent of this etymon, we have a down-market usage, while in the eastern extent, we find something beautiful. Romania has its beauties, too. They’re found in the language.
Post written by Jim Ranalli
It’s a great honor to receive the 2012 Christopher Brumfit Award, especially as it commemorates a scholar whose books on communicative methodology were a tremendous source of guidance and inspiration to me when I first trained as an English teacher. I thank the panel of referees, the editor and editorial board of Language Teaching, and Cambridge University Press for this special recognition of my research and the opportunity to share it with a wider audience.
The focus of my thesis was a web-based, instructional resource called VVT (Virtual Vocabulary Trainer), which I developed to teach integrated vocabulary depth of knowledge and dictionary referencing skills to university-level learners of English as a Second Language (ESL). In addition to evaluating the potential of online resources to address long-standing challenges in the field of second language (L2) strategy instruction, my project also targeted research objectives in other related areas. I described these in four separate articles that were aimed at peer-reviewed journals in the fields of computer-assisted language learning (CALL), applied linguistics, and English language teaching.
The first paper discussed the theoretical underpinnings of the VVT course, the procedures I followed in developing it, and the materials themselves, while also suggesting general design principles for L2 strategy instruction based on frameworks derived from information-processing theory. The second paper represented the evaluation component of the project and reported how I investigated the feasibility of online strategy instruction by studying the resource’s effectiveness, both actual and perceived, in a randomized controlled trial involving 64 ESL composition students. In the third paper, the VVT course served as the platform for another study critiquing a structural model of L2 vocabulary learning proposed in a 2008 paper by Wen-Ta Tseng and Norbert Schmitt, while at the same time adding to the literature on the acquisition of L2 vocabulary depth-of-knowledge features. In the final paper, which was based in a self-regulated learning framework, I used discrepant cases from the evaluation study – that is, individual participants whose performances diverged significantly from group norms – to investigate the metacognitive process of task definition, a stage of learning in which students develop internal, and potentially idiosyncratic, representations of tasks.
I believe my findings provide clear evidence of the feasibility of automated, online forms of strategy instruction for complementing teacher-led forms, while at the same time shedding light on the challenges many L2 learners face in self-directed learning of vocabulary depth of knowledge. They also demonstrate the potential of process-oriented models of self-regulated learning for researching and theorizing about L2 acquisition and strategy use. Two of the papers have been published so far and I am currently collecting more data to improve the final two papers for publication. If you’re interested in the references or in finding out more about my research, please visit www.jimranalli.net.
Discover more about the Christopher Brumfit Award and how you can enter for 2013 here.