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IASCL - Child Language Bulletin - Vol 29, No 1: June 2009


Preliminary Information about the 12th International Congress for the Study of Child Language, Montréal, 19-23 July 2011

By Henri Cohen, Université du Québec à Montréal & Université Paris Descartes –CNRS

The next IASCL congress will be held in Montreal, Canada on 19-23 July 2011. The planned location for the conference is the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM), located in the city’s urban core. The general theme of the congress is Social, Genetic and Cognitive determinants in the Acquisition and Development of Child Language. General information available at this time can be found at, where you will find details about the venue of the conference and accommodation. A close to definitive schedule of the conference is available here.

The call for symposia will be sent on September 1, 2009. We expect to have a few invited symposia (10-15%) on topics of general interest and closely related to the theme of the conference. However, the great majority of thematic sessions will be those submitted by participants on original, previously unpublished research on any aspect of child language. The deadline for symposium submissions is July 2010. The call for poster abstracts will be sent a bit later, with a later deadline (October 2010) than that for symposia. General information about electronic submission for both symposia and abstracts will be posted on the conference site and advertised through various channels. The site will be updated on a regular basis as soon as the calls for symposia and abstracts are sent.

As with the last conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, there will be allocated time periods for poster sessions, with no other parallel sessions. Also, note that we will not feature independent oral presentations, as we are moving towards thematic sessions and individual poster presentations only.

At this time, there is no set limit to thematic sessions and number of poster presentations. The quality of research submitted (as per evaluation) will be the primary determinant of acceptance.

A number of keynote speakers have been invited. There will be a plenary session (keynote speaker) each day of the conference. Confirmed speakers are Deb Roy (MIT) and Fred Genesee (McGill). We are waiting for confirmation from three others on topics related to genetic and cognitive aspects of language acquisition. We are aiming for keynote presentations that will inform the general community of child language researchers with state of the art and latest advances and challenges in multidisciplinary areas of interests. Information about the speakers will be posted on the conference web site shortly.

Registration opens online on October 1, 2010.

For further information about the conference, please contact Henri Cohen (; or Sanja Obradovic (


By Brian MacWhinney, Carnegie Mellon University

Since the last report in the IASCL Newsletter in 2008, the CHILDES Project has been busy extending the database and programs in many ways. Here, we provide a report on these new developments.

1. Browser Integration

It is now possible to access the CHILDES database using your web browser in two new ways. Beginning in late 2008, we added a feature called WebCLAN that allows you to run CLAN programs directly on files. This feature has some limitations, since you have to click on each file that you wish to analyze and the output has to go to the browser’s window, but it is a good method for students to use when they wish to browse around the database making a few simple analyses.

The second new browser feature is of more general interest. This is the online transcript browser built in April 2009 by Spencer Sugarman. I highly recommend that all child language researchers learn to use this facility, as it provides the best way of directly appreciating realistic child language data. To try this new feature, please visit and click on the link on the right called Browser Access. The browser plug-in will start up and there will be instructions on how to proceed. On the left, one will see folders that you can browse. For instance, one might pick Biling, then YipMatthews, then AliciaEng and then any one of the transcripts. Once the transcript opens up, just double click on a line and the video will play in sync. The system will scroll through the transcript and turn pages automatically. When you wish to stop playback, double click on the line that is currently playing. This system will eventually include a facility for commenting on the interactions. This type of commentary or blogging system will be useful for teaching purposes, as well as shared analytic work in small project groups.

2. Phon and PhonBank

The PhonBank project, co-directed by Yvan Rose and Brian MacWhinney, has been extending the coverage of databases on phonological development in CHILDES. Databases in CHAT format with linked audio include: Dutch (Inge Zink), English (Barbara Davis), French (Sophie Kern), German (Britta Lindfert and Bernd Möbius), Japanese (Mits Ota), Romanian (Sophie Kern), and Tunisian (Sophie Kern). The Stanford data from English, French, Japanese, and Swedish are included, but the audio is not available. In addition to these seven major corpora in CHAT format, there are three that are in full Phon format. These include the Dutch corpus from Clara Levelt and Paula Fikkert, the classic data from Smith (1973), and Québécois French data from Yvan Rose and Heather Goad. In addition, there are six other corpora currently under preparation. We are currently converting to Phon format for all of these CHAT corpora, along with other CHAT corpora for which we have audio, such as Indonesian, Florianopolis, MCF, Providence/Lyon, and Paris. The result will be a huge database of phonologically transcribed child language corpora linked to audio.

In July, we will release a beta version of the Phon 1.4. Perhaps the most important change in this version is the introduction of native media playback to improve stability. The full 1.4 release is scheduled for early fall. In addition to improved media playback, Phon 1.4 will provide conversion between Phon and CHAT data formats.

3. Morphosyntactic Analysis

We have been making rapid progress in the configuration of methods for automatic and semi-automatic morphosyntactic analysis in six languages:

Japanese: Susanne Miyata, who is spending the year as a visitor at CMU, has successfully applied the Japanese MOR tagger with POST disambiguation to the Miyata-Tai corpus in CHILDES and the results, which are quite accurate are now in the database. In addition, Susanne has updated the system for automatic computation of the DSS profile (Lee, 1974) for Japanese and the documentation for both MOR and DSS.

Italian: Livia Tonelli and Maurizio Fabris have been developing the Italian MOR tagger and applying it to the various Italian corpora. Two complete folders have now been accurately tagged. This work has underscored the need for more data on Italian, and help on this would be very much appreciated.

Hebrew: Bracha Nir-Sagiv, Shuly Wintner, Anat Prior-Unger, Alon Lavie, and Brian MacWhinney are collaborating on a project to improve the Hebrew MOR system and to apply the GRASP grammatical relations tagger to Hebrew child language data.

Spanish: We have now tagged about 70% of the Spanish language corpora. Recently the MOR grammar was rewritten to provide clearer links between verb allomorphy types and the traditional names for the cells of the verb paradigm. We have also created a GRASP grammatical relations parser for the Spanish corpora that we will soon apply to all tagged corpora.

English: The English tagger continues to be extended in the context of work in both CHILDES and AphasiaBank. After the inclusion of new training sets, the error rate for the tagger is now down to 3% on new data and 1% on old data. Using the newly tagged corpora, we plan to retrain and rerun the GRASP grammatical relations parser for English across the whole English database.

French: Christophe Parisse completed the construction of an analytic version of MOR for French. We plan to use this system to begin tagging of the French corpora.

Work based on CHILDES corpora, much of it using these new tags or linked audio will appear in a special issue of the Journal of Child Language appearing early in 2010. An article summarizing much of this analytic work appeared as:

MacWhinney, B. (2008). Enriching CHILDES for morphosyntactic analysis. In H. Behrens (Ed.), Trends in corpus research: Finding structure in data (pp. 165-198). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

4. New Corpora

Several new CHILDES corpora have been announced already through messages to In addition to the eight new PhonBank corpora discussed earlier, we have also added these five:

FerFuLice Bilingual Corpus

This corpus is entitled the FerFuLice corpus after the two contributors, Raquel Férnandez Fuertes (University of Valladolid) and Juana Liceras (University of Ottawa). The corpus contains spontaneous productions from a longitudinal study of two English/Spanish bilingual identical twins in Spain with the pseudonyms of Simon and Leo. The father is a native speaker of Peninsular Spanish and the mother is a native speaker of American English. The father always speaks to the children in Spanish and the mother always addresses them in English. The parents generally communicate in Spanish with each other, except on summers when they travel to the United States for approximately two months or when a monolingual English speaker is present. The corpus thus features bilingual English/Spanish first language acquisition in a monolingual-Spanish social context, a type of bilingualism that is referred to in the literature as individual bilingualism (Bhatia and Ritchie, 2004).

The corpus is included in the Bilingual segment of CHILDES. The data collected cover the age range of 1;01 to 6;11.

Paris French Corpus

This new corpus features longitudinal data from three French-speaking children contributed by Aliyah Morgenstern (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3) and Christophe Parisse (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense). This is the first French corpus linked to video and each child has been recorded across a full two years of development between one and three years old.

Van Oosten Bilingual Corpus

This corpus includes data from bilingual Dutch-Italian and monolingual Italian school aged children living in Rome. The data were collected using a picture description task and the emphasis of the analysis is on cross-linguistic influences.

Foudon-Reboul Clinical Corpus

Participants were 8 French children with autism (3 girls, 6 boys) between 3;9 and 9;2 at the beginning of the study. All children were recruited at the Isatis Department of the Saint-Jean-de-Dieu Hospital (Lyon, France) where they were initially diagnosed with DSM-IV (1994) Autistic Disorder.

Ervin-Tripp Requests Corpus

Work on this corpus is still in progress. The transcripts are on the web in the Eng-USA folder, but linkage to the audio is not yet complete. This is a study of six families with young children in the San Francisco Bay Area with a focus on the use of requests.

5. Developments in the CLAN program

New developments in the CLAN program include these features:

1. Availability of a sound waveform window when working with video.
2. A reworked commands window for the replace function.
3. Improvements in CHECK to mesh more completely with the requirements of the CHAT2XML checker, which is available at
4. Full support for all forms of Conversation Analysis (CA) coding, as indicated by the symbol chart at
5. Guidelines at for the use of the new AVCHD camcorders in conjunction with iMovie to produce high quality QuickTime video.
6. Fuller support for the coding of gestural sequences by breaking out coding into separate files.
7. Programs to support shifting of data back and forth from ELAN, Praat, EXMARaLDA, and Anvil.

An Interview with the LSA Leonard Bloomfield Book Award 2009 Recipient, Virginia Yip

By Angel Chan, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Virginia Yip

Virginia Yip’s monograph “The Bilingual Child: Early Development and Language Contact” (coauthored with Stephen Matthews, published by Cambridge University Press, 2007) received the Linguistic Society of America’s Leonard Bloomfield Book Award in 2009 and a Research Excellence Award from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2006. Virginia is Professor and Director of the Childhood Bilingualism Research Centre at the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include bilingual acquisition, second language acquisition, Cantonese, Chaozhou and comparative Sinitic grammar, psycholinguistics and cognitive science. Virginia and her team have created the Hong Kong Bilingual Child Language Corpus, the first longitudinal bilingual corpus in which Cantonese is represented along with English, and the largest multimedia bilingual corpus in the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES) based at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the author of Interlanguage and Learnability: from Chinese to English (John Benjamins) and co-author of a series of works on Cantonese grammar published by Routledge: Cantonese: A Comprehensive Grammar, Basic Cantonese and Intermediate Cantonese. Virginia serves on the editorial board of Bilingualism: Language and Cognition and Second Language Research.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Virginia on her award and to ask her a few questions about her perspectives on bilingual first language acquisition, child second language acquisition, and how the study of childhood bilingualism might bear on theories and other areas of linguistics.

Angel Chan: Virginia, how did you become interested in bilingual acquisition?

Virginia Yip: It was a serendipitous combination of my academic background and personal circumstances. My research background at UT Austin and USC was in second language acquisition, in particular, the acquisition of English syntax by Chinese speakers. This was the topic of my PhD thesis and the book published by Benjamins in 1995. Then when our first child was born in 1993, my husband and I planned to bring him up following the one parent-one language principle: Steve spoke English and I spoke Cantonese to our son. And we made a strategic decision to shift our research focus from adult SLA, which was relatively well understood, to bilingual acquisition, which at the time was largely uncharted territory. The decision worked out well as we have been able to participate in the dramatic growth in the study of childhood bilingualism in the past 15 years. Once we started studying our son Timmy, it quickly became so interesting that we soon wanted more bilingual children, so we had two bilingual daughters and their development replicated Timmy’s rather nicely, while showing some interesting differences. I’ve been immensely blessed as I was able to spend quality time with my children in their early childhood, combining my research and family. A colleague once suggested to me a motto based on the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who can build their careers around their families, for no life can be more fulfilling.”

Angel Chan: Bilingualism is one of the hot topics in child language acquisition. What do you think are the intriguing questions to address in this area?

Virginia Yip: There are a number of important issues which are just beginning to be understood. One is about the interaction between two languages in the course of acquisition. There’s a classic article in the SLA tradition called “Transfer: now you see it, now you don’t” and we’re seeing something similar now in bilingual acquisition. We need to work out why some studies are finding cross-linguistic influence while others find none. There are factors involving the children being studied, like language dominance, or stronger and weaker languages. Then there are factors involving the language pairs being acquired, how they overlap, etc. We’ll present a paper on this at the ISB in Utrecht this July.

Another issue that I’d like to highlight is the importance of looking at the dual input available to the bilingual child. Both qualitative and quantitative aspects of input from the two languages need to be investigated systematically in order to address issues such as the logical problem of bilingual acquisition and poverty of dual stimulus. What can and cannot be learned on the basis of input and how this determines the end point of acquisition in the bilingual child vis a vis the monolingual child is an intriguing question.

Angel Chan: Apart from studying bilingual first language acquisition, you have also been going more into child second language acquisition. What motivates you to study both bilingual first language acquisition and child second language acquisition?

Virginia Yip: This question is important for both theoretical and practical reasons. On the theoretical side, a lot of research in the field tries to make a clear distinction between “true” bilingual first language acquisition and “early” second language acquisition. It’s not yet clear to me whether this distinction can be drawn and if so, where. For example, some children exposed to two languages from birth clearly have a stronger and a weaker language, and we need to establish how their development is similar or dissimilar to clear cases of child SLA. Studying both simultaneous and successive acquisition of two languages in childhood allows researchers to address these challenging issues. This question is also discussed in terms of the epistemological status of bilingual acquisition in our 2007 book.

On the practical side, early second language acquisition is currently much more widespread in Hong Kong and China than bilingual first language acquisition. For the majority of children in Hong Kong, Cantonese is the mother tongue, while English is the second language, and Mandarin is increasingly taught in schools as an additional language. This is an exciting testing ground for trilingualism in early childhood, and our new Childhood Bilingualism Research Centre is launching some studies that address children’s knowledge of Mandarin in addition to Cantonese and English.

Angel Chan: Your child language work draws on both generative and typological theoretical perspectives. Is there a reason for this treatment?

Virginia Yip: Again, it’s a combination of academic and biographical reasons. I was trained at USC at the time when it had strong representation of both generative and typological approaches. I tried to use insights from both paradigms in my doctoral work and the 1995 book based on it. And this has something to do with meeting my husband Stephen, who had a strong interest in typology, at USC. Although there has often been tension between these approaches due to their different assumptions, we have found it fruitful to combine aspects of them both in our analyses of particular phenomena. From the generative approach, we’ve inherited the need to be precise about what structure we assume, as well as the importance of considering learnability. From the typological paradigm we’ve learned to appreciate the importance of solid data description without which theorization is virtually impossible. Our descriptive work in Cantonese grammar serves as the basis for our work in bilingual acquisition, which in turn informs our analysis of aspects of adult grammar. The typological approach also leads us to consider the diversity of human languages in language acquisition research, and keeps our feet on the ground by making us reluctant to assume more abstract structure than necessary. Experience has taught us that nobody has the answers to all of the intellectual problems facing our field. For example, in order to understand and describe the phenomena of missing objects and wh-interrogatives in our children’s English we’ve drawn extensively on insights from generative grammar, which offers precise analysis of structures such as multiple and partial wh-movement. On the other hand, in understanding children’s relative clauses we have found insights from typology and emergentism more relevant and applicable. This gives a certain sense of eclecticism to our work. In the ideal case, the approaches can be complementary in addressing one and the same phenomenon, as I try to show in my 1995 book with the case of topic-prominence.

Angel Chan: Your childhood bilingualism work also draws parallels between child language development and language contact. What inspires you to pursue this line of comparison? What might we learn from these comparisons?

Virginia Yip: This started when we were struck by the parallels between what we were seeing in our bilingual children and what we read about Singapore Colloquial English. Most of the properties of our children’s English which we were attributing to influence from Cantonese also showed up in Singapore Colloquial English – questions with wh-in-situ like you go where, relative clauses before the noun, null objects of transitive verbs, and so on. It became clear to us that the interaction of English with Chinese dialects was leading to similar results in both cases, but on different levels – individual development in our bilingual children and the formation of a new contact language in Singapore. As Suzanne Romaine said, the bilingual individual is the ultimate locus of language contact. So we explored some of the parallels in detail and we’ve argued that contact-induced grammaticalization has its basis in individual ontogenetic development in bilingual or multilingual environments. Our article on this topic just appeared in Studies in Language.

Angel Chan: Apart from childhood bilingualism, Cantonese and comparative Sinitic grammar are also your areas of expertise. In your opinion, how could Chinese languages enrich the study of bilingual acquisition or child language in general?

Virginia Yip: First of all, what we know about bilingual acquisition is overwhelmingly based on studies involving European languages. We don’t know yet how far-reaching the implications of this limited database are, but our work on Cantonese-English bilingual development shows that interactions between typologically diverse language pairs can produce findings very different from the European ones. The transfer of wh-in-situ and prenominal relative clauses from Cantonese to English shows this point clearly. What’s more, transfer from English to Cantonese is also possible: English word order is transferred to Cantonese as seen in the dative construction and verb particle construction. In bilingual acquisition, transfer can happen in both directions. The bidirectional interactions instantiated in Cantonese-English bilingual development illustrate a fraction of the possibilities, as it were, the tip of the iceberg.

Chinese is a language of growing importance around the world. It is of interest to language acquisition researchers not simply because it is spoken by more than a quarter of the world’s population. It is also intrinsically of great linguistic interest because of its typological properties that make it genetically and typologically distant from Indo-European languages. Aspects of Chinese such as lexical tone, topic prominence, word order, classifiers and null arguments raise new possibilities for interaction between a child’s developing linguistic systems.. By extending the database from pairing English and European languages to typologically unrelated languages with very different structures such as Chinese, childhood bilingualism will be better understood. As Chinese is acquired by children in monolingual and bilingual contexts in different parts of the world, we need to be careful when we compare children across different speech communities and acquisition contexts. The input available in the environment may also vary: Taiwan Mandarin differs from Beijing Mandarin in striking ways, from phonology to syntax and the lexicon. The variability in the Mandarin input from different adults in various speech communities cannot be overestimated. Some of these issues are discussed in a forthcoming special issue in International Journal of Bilingualism devoted to the acquisition of Chinese in bilingual and multilingual contexts.

So far, the published studies have mostly been based on children acquiring Cantonese or Mandarin paired with English. Studies investigating childhood bilingualism pairing a Chinese language with a language other than English, spoken or signed, will be important in extending the empirical database and addressing theoretical issues related to language contact and cross-linguistic interaction. Child language research in general, of course, is much more diversified already: early on, researchers recognized the importance of cross-linguistic studies of child language acquisition. As work in bilingual acquisition diversifies, I expect our views to change significantly. I think childhood bilingualism will be better understood when investigated against a rich background of linguistic diversity.

Angel Chan: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Virginia!

Report on the Workshop on Pragmatic Development, 22 April 2009

By Gerlind Grosse, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig

How children come to understand and produce gestures and speech in context-specific ways is an issue addressed from different perspectives in comparative psychology, developmental psychology, linguistics and psycholinguistics. Unfortunately, developments in these related fields have often proceeded in isolation from each other and from other related disciplines such as philosophy and anthropology.

This workshop therefore aimed to bridge disciplinary and cultural boundaries in exploring the developmental processes enabling humans to achieve complex communicative goals. It brought together researchers specializing in relevant subfields of pragmatic development, and others with expertise in relevant cognitive prerequisites, as well as linguists and philosophers. The workshop took place as a pre-conference event for Experimental Pragmatics 2009 (XPrag-2009) on the 22nd of April under the auspices of the Institut des Sciences Cognitives in Lyon. This workshop was organized by Gerlind Grosse (Max Planck Institut for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig), Nausicaa Pouscoulous (University College London), Danielle Matthews (Manchester University) and Michael Tomasello (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig), funded by the Max Planck Society and the Thyssen Foundation. We also acknowledge the tremendous help in organization from Ira Noveck and the Laboratoire sur le langage, le cerveau et la cognition in Lyon.

The workshop was structured along the lines of three age ranges: pre-linguistic pragmatics (0-2 years), early linguistic pragmatics (2-5 years), and ‘later’ pragmatics (4+ years). Each of the three sessions consisted of three empirical presentations and a theoretical response, followed by a general discussion. Among others, we wanted to address the following issues: (1) Are there common principles and processes at play in the use of context in communication at all stages of early development, and if so, which ones? (2) Which are the theoretical frameworks that best allow us to explain the latest empirical findings? (3) How do they compare to each other? Can they be teased apart empirically?

In the first session, Michael Tomasello, Michèle Guidetti (Université Toulouse II) and Ulf Liszkowski (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen) gave an overview of the relevant empirical research focusing on the underlying structure of communication, conventional gestures and the cognitive bases of pointing, respectively. Richard Breheny (UCL) in his theoretical discussion evaluated the explanatory adequacy of current communication theories, i.e. shared intentionality, pedagogy and relevance theory for the data presented. Steven Butterfill (Warwick University) led the general discussion, which focused on the emergence of the pre-requisites for complex human communication, specifically, infants’ expectation of cooperativeness in interaction and their ability to distinguish different layers of intentionality in communication.

The second session featured empirical reports by Danielle Matthews, Aylin Küntay (Koς University, Turkey), and Erika Nurmsoo (Bristol University). Topics ranged from children’s growing ability to choose an appropriate referential expression under various circumstances to their difficulty in taking a partner’s knowledge into account when asking for information. Bart Geurts (University of Nijmegen) provided a thought-provoking theoretical discussion on three potential dichotomies: Gricean reasoning vs. heuristic inferencing, situation models vs. discourse models and pointing vs. linguistic reference. He also highlighted that linguistics and psychology have still some way to go until they converge on a theory that explains human communication. Peter Hobson (UCL) led the general discussion of this session, in which we took on the various issues brought up by the presentations. In particular, we pointed out the missing theoretical link between research on infant communication and later more linguistically pragmatic phenomena.

The third session started off with some data-driven reports given by Nausicaa Pouscoulous, Napoleon Katsos (Cambridge University) and Ira Noveck (L2C2, Lyon). Topics in this session included children’s understanding of scalar implicatures based on Gricean conversational maxims, and more generally, their ability to negotiate the informativeness of their messages, as well as their difficulties with complex pragmatic phenomena like irony and metaphor. The theoretical discussion, given by Dan Sperber (Jean Nicod Institut, Paris), outlined the developmental path children have to follow, from the social cognitive abilities which enable communication in its most basic form (i.e. in structured situations, using simple means to refer) to becoming members of their linguistic community. This includes being able to express more complex meanings, make more difficult and remote references, adapt to the various conventions, and finally reaching the stage where they are able to operate on those acquired meanings and conventions and understand and produce such complex phenomena such as implicatures, irony and metaphor. In the general discussion of the third session, led by Paula Rubio (UCL), we discussed different possible explanations for the studies presented which involve issues of informativeness and implicatures.

We also had a small poster session to give young researchers an opportunity to present and discuss their work. We closed the day with a look forward where we discussed which questions were the most pressing ones to be tackled by future research. Much emphasis was placed on an effort to fill in the theoretical gap between “basic” pragmatics, i.e. communicative skills in general and “complex” pragmatics, i.e. the specific phenomena observed and studied in adult conversation. Part of this question concerns how the different phenomena studied in the three age ranges relate to each other, and what is it that develops so that children become more and more versatile conversationalists. In particular, we need empirical work studying children’s conversational and discourse comprehension skills across cultures, as well as studies investigating factors that make some things in communication especially easy or difficult. Overall, it was an amazingly inspiring day featuring many great ideas which hopefully will lead to future research collaboration and will go on to stir much theoretical discussion across fields, cultures and disciplines.

Gerlind Grosse is a PhD student studying child pragmatics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.



What: The Eleventh Annual International Conference of the Japanese Society for Language Sciences (JSLS2009)
When: 4–5 July 2009
Where: Tokyo Denki University (Hatoyama Campus), Hatoyama, Saitama-ken, Japan

What: 7th International Symposium on Bilingualism ISB7
When: 8–11 July 2009
Where: Utrecht University, Netherlands

What: Multimodality of Communication in Children: Gestures, Emotions, Language and Cognition (MultiMod 2009)
When: 9-11 July 2009
Where: Toulouse, France

What: 33rd Stanford Child Language Research Forum
When: 10-12 July 2009
Where: UC Berkeley, USA

What: The 2nd Stavanger Reading and Writing Conference
When: 27 August- 2 September 2009
Where: University of Stavanger, Norway

What: Barcelona Summer School on Bi- and Multilingualism
When: 7-10 September 2009
Where: Barcelona, Spain

What: The British Psychological Society Developmental Psychology Section Conference
When: 9-11 September 2009
Where: Nottingham, UK

What: Sixth International Conference on Third Language Acquisition and Multilingualism
When: 10-12 September 2009
Where: Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy

What: Bangor Postgraduate Conference on Bilingualism and Bimodalism
When: 2-3 October 2009
Where: Bangor University, Wales UK

What: The (US) Cognitive Development Society Sixth Biennial Meeting
When: 16-17 October 2009
Where: San Antonio, Texas

What: The 34th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development
When: 6-8 November 2009
Where: Boston University, USA

What: The 84th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America
When: 7-10 January 2010
Where: Maryland, USA


What: The First Lyon Postgraduate Conference in Language Acquisition
When: 3-4 December 2009
Where: Lyon, France
Submission Deadline: 31 July 2009

What: Workshop on Information Structure in Language Acquisition
When: 24-26 February 2010
Where: Berlin, Germany
Details: Christine Dimroth
Submission Deadline: 15 August 2009

What: The 13th Meeting of the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association
When: 23-26 June 2010
Where: Oslo, Norway
Submission Deadline: 1 Sep 2009 (panel proposals), 1 Nov 2009 (abstracts for contributions to panels)

What: The Child Language Seminar
When: 24-25 June 2010
Where: City University London, UK
Submission Deadline: 31 December 2009


Editor: Edith L. Bavin
Title: The Cambridge Handbook of Child Language
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 978-0-521-88337-5

The Cambridge Handbook of Child Language brings together the world’s foremost researchers to provide a one-stop resource for the study of language acquisition and development. Grouped into five thematic sections, the Handbook is organized by topic, drawing on both established and more recent research. It covers a wide range of subjects with chapters covering both theories and methods in child language research, and tracing the development of language from prelinguistic infancy to teenager. Five chapters focus on theoretical and methodological approaches to language acquisition, with chapters on innateness and learnability, statistical learning, the neurocognition of language development, the usage based theory, and cross linguistic approaches. Three chapters on early developments focus on speech perception, crosslinguistic perspectives on segmentation and categorization and the development from gesture to word. There are six chapters on the development of phonology, morphology and syntax. An additional five chapters cover topics in semantics, pragmatics, sentences processing and language development in narrative contexts. The fifth section of the Handbook covers bilingualism; sign language acquisition studies; specific language impairment, the language of children with autism, and language development in genetic disorders.

Author: Meiyun Chang-Smith
Title: The Acquisition of Determiner Phrase in Early Child Mandarin: A Longitudinal Study of Two Mandarin Speaking Children
Publisher: VDM Publishers, Saarbrücken, Germany
ISBN: 978-3-639-12941-0

This text provides an authoritative account of the first language (L1) acquisition of Mandarin Determiner Phrase (DP), the first to utilize grammatical aspects of the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995 among others) to explain the acquisition of nominal functional categories in early child Mandarin. The study is both theory and data driven, leading the reader step by step along the developmental pathway for Mandarin DP as exhibited by the two child subjects, one monolingual and the other a simultaneous Mandarin-English bilingual. Through the inclusion of detailed and extensive examples from the original corpora together with discussions and analysis, this book reveals unique and original insights into the L1 acquisition of a classifier language possessing a DP with more complex intervening internal structures. By careful comparison of both the bilingual and the monolingual DP acquisition patterns, the study reveals that simultaneous bilingual and monolingual children pursue the same developmental pathway during the course of development of Mandarin DP. It sheds light on fundamental issues in language acquisition such as the continuity debates and will be a valuable resource for students and practicing acquisition researchers alike.

Meiyun Chang-Smith ( changsmithm.html) is a language scientist at the Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. She holds a M.A. (Applied Linguistics) from The University of Queensland and a PhD (Linguistics) from The Australian National University. Dr. Chang-Smith’s primary research interests fall into the areas of first language acquisition, simultaneous and subsequent bilingual language acquisition, grammatical constraints on bilingual code switching, relations between linguistic and human conceptual categorizations, generative syntax, and more recently in neurocognitive aspects of language phenomena such as acquisition, representation and processing.

Author: Annick De Houwer
Title: An Introduction to Bilingual Development
Publisher: Multilingual Matters
ISBN-13: 9781847691699 (Hbk); 9781847691682 (Pbk); 9781847691705 (Ebook)

Key Features
• Offers teaching-orientated coverage of bilingual development
• Introductory textbook with extensive glossary, chapter summaries, discussion points and suggestions for further reading

Increasingly, children grow up hearing two languages from birth. This introductory textbook shows how children learn to understand and speak those languages against the backdrop of their language learning environments. A narrative around the bilingual development of four young children with different language profiles helps to explain the latest research findings in a lively and accessible manner.

1: Introducing the fancy term for bilingual development: Bilingual First Language Acquisition
2: From birth to the comprehension of words
3: Saying words and starting to combine them
4: Making sentences
5: Preschool and beyond
6: In conclusion: Bilingual learning in context

Annick De Houwer has recently been appointed as Chair of Language Acquisition and Teaching at the University of Erfurt in Germany. She is also the new Director of the Language Center there. In addition, Professor De Houwer holds the title of Collaborative Investigator to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U.S.A.). Her PhD was based on a dissertation on bilingual acquisition, a topic she has since continued to work on steadily. Her first book, The Acquisition of Two Languages from Birth (CUP, 1990), is widely cited in the bilingual acquisition literature. Her second book is the comprehensive textbook Bilingual First Language Acquisition (Multilingual Matters, 2009). Dr. De Houwer has also published on Dutch child language, attitudes towards child language, teen language, and intralingual subtitling.

Author: Natalia Gagarina
Title: First Language Acquisition of Verb Categories in Russian (Stanovlenie grammaticheskih kategorij russkogo glagola v detskoj rechi)
Publisher: Nauka: St. Petersburg

This book is about first language acquisition and with which surprising rapidity and ease children learn their native language and its complex grammatical categories. Believing that the verb is the milestone in the development of all grammatical systems of language, the author identifies four periods in the acquisition of the verbal categories of aspect, tense, person and number and describes the defining characteristics of these periods. Children's mistakes in the use of finite verb forms and adults reformulations are analyzed and classified. Quantitative characteristics of the input and of children's data are compared. The book is intended for psycholinguists and philologists, teachers and psychologists, and anyone else who is interested in the mysterious phenomenon of child language.

The book is in Russian, but contains approx. 30 pages of English translation.

Part I: Grammatical categories and first language acquisition: theoretical base and methods of research
Chapter 1. Categorization in language acquisition and verb categories in Russian
Chapter 2. Grammatical categories in first language acquisition
Chapter 3. Data
Chapter 4. Short description of the four periods of the development of grammatical system in first language acquisition
Part II: Analyses, results and discussion
Chapter 5. The development of the grammatical verb categories
Chapter 6. Children errors
Chapter 7. Experiment: comprehension of aspectual distinctions
Chapter 8. Quantitative characteristics of input and output: an interrelation

Editor: Virginia C. Mueller Gathercole
Title: Routes to Language
Subtitle: Studies in Honor of Melissa Bowerman
Publisher: Psychology Press
ISBN: 978-1-84169-716-1

This volume contains contributions from leaders in the field of child language in honor of one of the preeminent scholars of language acquisition research, Melissa Bowerman. Melissa Bowerman has had a profound, widespread, and enduring influence on research conducted in the field for nearly 40 years. Her work has focused on the acquisition of words and linguistic structure, on crosslinguistic differences and language-specific influences on development, and on factors that shape children's grammars. The authors take up these concerns here.

The chapters provide the most up-to-date statement of key positions by several leaders in the field. Fundamental questions are explored in depth, with rich analyses in a number of areas, including learning words; crosslinguistic patterning and acquisition of lexical semantics; crosslinguistic patterning and events, paths, and causes; and influences on development.

Table of Contents
V.C. Mueller Gathercole, Preface.
Part 1. Learning Words.
D. Gentner & L. Boroditsky, Early Acquisition of Nouns and Verbs: Evidence from Navajo.
E. Dromi, Old Data – New Eyes: Theories on Word Meaning Acquisition.
Part 2. Crosslinguistic Patterning and Acquisition of Lexical Semantics.
L. de León, Mayan Semantics in Early Lexical Development: The Case of the Tzotzil Verbs for “Eating” and “Falling Down”.
B. Narasimhan & P. Brown, Getting the INSIDE Story: Learning to Express Containment in Tzeltal and Hindi.
Part 3. Crosslinguistic Patterning and Events, Paths, and Causes.
W. Croft, Aspectual and Causal Structure in Event Representations.
S. Choi, Typological Differences in Syntactic Expressions of Path and Causation.
D.I. Slobin, Relation between Paths of Motion and Paths of Vision: A Crosslinguistic and Developmental Exploration.
Part 4. Influences on Development.
E.V. Clark, What Shapes Children’s Language? Child-directed Speech and the Process of Acquisition.
P. Li, What’s in a Lexical System? Discovering Meaning through an Interactive Eye.
M. Rice, Language Acquisition Lessons from Children with Specific Language Impairment: Revisiting the Discovery of Latent Structures.
V.C. Mueller Gathercole, “It Was So Much Fun. It Was 20 Fun!” Cognitive and Linguistic Invitations to the Development of Scalar Predicates.
Personal Tributes from each of these authors, plus from R. Berman, A. Wittek, L. Talmy, J. Chen, R. P. Schaefer, and M. Crago.

More information:

Editors: Jiansheng Guo, Elena Lieven, Nancy Budwig, Susan Ervin-Tripp, Keiko Nakamura, Seyda Ozcaliskan
Title: Crosslinguistic Approaches to the Psychology of Language
Subtitle: Research in the Tradition of Dan Isaac Slobin
Publisher: Psychology Press
ISBN: 978-0-8058-5999-7

This volume covers state-of-the-art research in the field of crosslinguistic approaches to the psychology of language. The forty chapters cover a wide range of topics that represent the many research interests of a pioneer, Dan Isaac Slobin, who has been a major intellectual and creative force in the field of child language development, linguistics, and psycholinguistics for the past four decades.

Slobin has insisted on a rigorous, crosslinguistic approach in his attempt to identify universal developmental patterns in language learning, to explore the effects of particular types of languages on psycholinguistic processes, to determine the extent to which universals of language and language behavior are determined by modality (vocal/auditory vs. manual/visual) and, finally, to investigate the relation between linguistic and cognitive processes.

In this volume, researchers take up the challenge of the differences between languages to forward research in four major areas with which Slobin has been concerned throughout his career: language learning in crosslinguistic perspective (spoken and sign languages); the integration of language specific factors in narrative skill; theoretical issues in typology, language development and language change; and the relationship between language and cognition.

All chapters are written by leading researchers currently working in these fields, who are Slobin's colleagues, collaborators or former students in linguistics, psychology, anthropology, and cognitive science. Each section starts with an introductory chapter that connects the themes of the chapters and reviews Slobin's contribution in the context of past research trends and future directions. The whole volume focuses squarely on the central argument: universals of human language and of its development are embodied and revealed in its diverse manifestations and utilization.

Crosslinguistic Approaches to the Study of Language is a key resource for those interested in the range of differences between languages and how this impacts on learning, cognition and language change, and a tribute to Dan Slobin's momentous contribution to the field.

Details: Crosslinguistic-Approaches-to-the-Psychology-of-Language- isbn9780805859997

Author: Tom Roeper
Title: The Prism of Grammar: How Child Language Illuminates Humanism
Publisher: MIT Press

This book has just been reprinted in paperback. It is available for $18.95 from MIT Press and $12.89 from Amazon.

Editor: Daniela Slančová
Authors: Daniela Slančová, Marína Mikulajová, Jana Kesselová, Svetlana Kapalková, Iveta Bónová, Zuzana Ondráčková, Stanislava Zajacová
Title: Štúdie o detskej reči (Studies on Child Language)
Publisher: Prešovská univerzita v Prešove Filozofická fakulta
ISBN: 978-80-8068-701-4

Key Feature
• First monograph on language acquisition in Slovak language

Introduction: Basis of the child language research in Slovak (Daniela Slančová)
Chapter 1: Development of speech activity within the frame of mental development (Marína Mikulajová)
Chapter 2: Pragmatic functions in speech development (during the first 18 months of child’s life) (Daniela Slančová)
Chapter 3: Semantic categories in early child speech ontogenesis (Jana Kesselová)
Chapter 4: Gestures in early child development (Svetlana Kapalková)
Chapter 5: Phonological development in child’s speech (Iveta Bónová)
Chapter 6: Child words in Slovak and their characteristics (Zuzana Ondráčková)
Chapter 7: Forming of register in children’s role-plays (registers imitating mother’s or father’s role) (Stanislava Zajacová)

All studies are written in Slovak language with English summaries (


Author: María R. Brea-Spahn
Title: Spanish-specific patterns and non-word repetition performance in English language learners
Institution: University of South Florida

Nonword repetition tasks were originally devised to assess the efficiency of the phonological loop (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974), a component of the working memory system, where verbal information is temporarily stored and translated to support activities like phonological processing during early word-recognition (Snowling, 1981; Wagner et al., 2003), speech production (McCarthy & Warrington, 1984), and articulation (Watkins, Dronkers, & Vargha-Khadem, 2002; Yoss & Darley, 1974).

From a practical perspective, there is a significant need for a systematically-designed Spanish nonword repetition measure that is equivalent to currently-available English measures. For this study, a database of nonwords that considered phonotactic and phonological properties of Spanish was devised. In a preliminary study, Spanish-speaking adults provided wordlikeness judgments about a large set of candidate nonwords. A subset of the rated nonwords was used in the development of a Spanish nonword repetition measure. The aim of the main experiment was to explore the contributions of participant factors (age, gender, and vocabulary knowledge) and item factors (word length, stress pattern, and wordlikeness) to Spanish repetition performance in this group of Spanish speaking, English language learning children. From a theoretical perspective, this investigation allowed a first observation of how experience with listening to and producing Spanish words influences the acquisition of Spanish-specific phonological patterns.

A total of 68 children, ages four to six years with varying degrees of Spanish language knowledge participated in this study. Results revealed significant age and word length effects. However, stress pattern did not exert significant effects on repetition performance, which is not completely consistent with previous literature. That is, participants repeated nonwords from both the more frequent and the less frequent stress pattern with similar accuracy. Wordlikeness, a previously uninvestigated variable in nonword repetition was found to affect repetition accuracy. For all participants, nonwords rated as high in wordlikeness were more accurately repeated than were nonwords with low wordlikeness ratings. Findings of the study are discussed in terms of how they relate to working memory and usage-based models of phonological learning. Finally, the clinical relevance of nonword repetition in the assessment of coarse- and fine-grained mappings of phonological knowledge is suggested.

Author: Medha Tare
Title: The Development of Pragmatic Differentiation Skills in Preschool-Aged Bilingual Children
Institution: University of Michigan

This dissertation examined pragmatic differentiation, bilingual speakers’ ability to use two languages appropriately with different speakers. Case studies of naturalistic interaction have shown that some sensitivity emerges in early childhood (by 2 years); however, the component skills of this pragmatic understanding and their relation to other developing metacognitive capacities have not been examined. In order to examine these issues, I compared the language use of 28 bilingual children (2;7 to 3;10 and 4;1 to 4;11) across three tasks, which varied in context and interlocutor. All children were bilingual in English and Marathi, an Indian language. I also included theory of mind measures to assess how developing cognitive capacities relate to pragmatic ability. In Study 1, each child participated in an Object Naming task, where he/she was asked to name familiar objects, and a Free Play task in which the child conversed with an adult. Both tasks were conducted twice, once with an English speaker and once with a Marathi speaker. In Study 2, the child and one of his/her bilingual parents discussed a picture book in three different sessions: one with the parent-child dyad alone, and one each where a third-person bystander was either an English speaker or a Marathi speaker.

Children performed very well in the Free Play task, using more of the appropriate language with each speaker. Furthermore, children switched languages between the two consecutive sessions. However, children had more difficulty with Object Naming, and used predominantly English labels with both speakers. There were developmental effects; older children were more responsive to prompts to switch languages. This responsiveness was also highly related to children’s theory of mind scores, even when controlling for their age. Finally, as predicted for the Parent-Child task, parents were sensitive to the experimenter’s presence and adjusted their language use accordingly; however, children did not follow their parents’ model and adjust their language use between sessions.

These results demonstrate that pragmatic differentiation is not an all-or-none ability, but one which has component skills that develop over the preschool years. This protracted development is also related to metacognitive abilities which emerge during the preschool years.


New Series Editors for Trends in Lang Acquisition Research‏

Trends in Language Acquisition Research (TiLAR) is the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Child Language (IASCL). The TiLAR Series publishes two volumes per three year period in between IASCL congresses. John Benjamins Publishing is pleased to announce that Shanley E. M. Allen (Boston University) and Caroline F. Rowland (University of Liverpool) have agreed to become the new series editors for TiLAR.

Shanley Allen (PhD, McGill University) is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Boston University, USA. Her research focuses on how the morphosyntactic structure of a language affects the patterns of development in that language. She is best known for her work on the acquisition of Inuktitut (Eskimo) as well as the acquisition of argument structure and argument realization. She has published numerous articles and chapters on language acquisition, and has served for several years as Associate Editor of the Journal of Child Language.

Caroline Rowland (PhD, University of Nottingham) is a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Liverpool, UK. Her research focuses on the question of how children acquire their first language, with the aim of developing and testing constructivist models of the language acquisition process. She is best known for her work on English children's acquisition of questions and auxiliaries and she has written, edited and contributed to a number of books and journals on first language acquisition.

TiLAR publishes monographs, edited volumes and text books on theoretical and methodological issues in the field of child language research. The focus of the series is on original research on all aspects of the scientific study of language behavior in children, linking different areas of research including linguistics, psychology & cognitive science.

The editors welcome proposals for thematic collections and monographs, focusing on work with a constructivist/non-generativist slant. TiLAR wants to publish sound empirical work (including research monographs based on PhD theses of an excellent standard) and to encourage debates and discussions.

Shanley Allen and Caroline Rowland will be assisted by an editorial board consisting of:

Ruth Berman, Tel Aviv University
Morten Christiansen, Cornell University
Jean Berko Gleason, Boston University
Nancy Budwig, Clark University
Ewa Dabrowska, University of Sheffield
Philip S. Dale, University of New Mexico
Paul Fletcher, University College Cork
Steven Gillis, University of Antwerp
Annick De Houwer, University of Erfurt
Elena Lieven, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
Brian MacWhinney, Carnegie Mellon University
Marilyn Vihman, University of York

For book proposals please contact one of the series editors: Shanley Allen, Caroline Rowland, or the publisher:

Bilingual Forum Ireland

Bilingual Forum Ireland is an association that aims to provide free information on bilingualism to teachers and parents in Ireland.

Chairperson: Francesca La Morgia (Dublin City University)


The Child Language Bulletin is the official newsletter of the IASCL Association, and it is published twice a year on the website. All members of the association will receive an e-mail message each time a new issue of the Bulletin is published.

I encourage members to submit news and information that might be relevant to our research community, for instance, report on a conference or workshop, announcements about forthcoming conferences and workshops, new CHILDES corpora, books, and completed PhD Theses, conference and workshop calls, book reviews, and surveys. We need your contributions to keep the Bulletin abreast of developments in our field.

Please send any items that are of interest to the IASCL community to

I look forward to receiving your submissions!

Angel Chan
Room GH632
Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hunghom, Hong Kong SAR



The IASCL is a worldwide organisation, which means that it aims to serve child language researchers in all countries of the world. Child language research is important everywhere, both from a theoretical perspective (cf. for instance the significance of cross-linguistic evidence) and from a more applied point of view (cf. for instance the need for good description to allow for the assessment of language learning problems). Unfortunately financial considerations are often a hindrance to the development of scientific disciplines in countries with severe economic problems. The IASCL has always been supportive of would-be IASCL members working in such countries by waiving membership fees for them.

IASCL funds are limited, though. In the past, donations from regular IASCL members have been very helpful in supporting colleagues from economically disadvantaged countries. In order to continue offering that support, your donations are very welcome indeed. Each donation, whatever the amount, will be acknowledged by a receipt signed by the IASCL Treasurer (useful perhaps for tax purposes). Please contact Dr Theakston for further details.

Cheques in pounds sterling payable to IASCL can be sent to:
Dr Anna Theakston
IASCL Treasurer
University of Manchester
Department of Psychology
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL

Cash payments in pounds sterling can also be made by prior arrangements with Dr Theakston at the above address.

The IASCL as a whole will be sure to benefit from the more diversified nature of its membership as a result of your donations. Many thanks in advance!

Anna Theakston, IASCL Treasurer


You are strongly encouraged to join IASCL or renew your membership by paying membership fees through our conference web site around the time of each triennial conference. If, however, you did not attend the last conference, and have not since renewed your membership, you can do so now. Current membership fees are £50 for regular members, and £27 for students. Members are eligible for a substantial discount for volumes 1-6 of TiLAR, and for a reduced subscription fee to the following journals: the Journal of Child Language, First Language, and the International Journal of Bilingualism. Your fees will contribute to the organization of the upcoming Congress and they will be especially valuable in the provision of student travel bursaries.


Membership (£50 for regular members; or £27 for students*) is for three years, and expires on the first day of the next triennial Congress, to be held in the summer of 2011 in Montreal. Members in countries with nonconvertible currencies or currency transfer restrictions or other economic difficulties should request a waiver of the membership fee. Additional contributions for the support of colleagues and program in countries with currency and/or economic difficulties are welcomed. Please get in touch with the Treasurer.

To join IASCL or renew your membership, please complete the online registration form. To make your payment, please telephone 00 44 1361 884466 and ask to speak to Colette or Katherine, explaining that you wish to pay IASCL membership fees OR email We will be able to take most credit/debit cards except American Express and Diners Club Card. Please note that credit card payments attract an administration fee of £5. *If you wish to pay the student membership fee, please send proof of student status to the treasurer at the address below:

Dr Anna Theakston
IASCL Treasurer
Coupland Building
School of Psychological Sciences
University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL

For more information, please visit