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IASCL - Child Language Bulletin - Vol 29, No 2: December 2009
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Updates 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 website for IASCL 2011 is

Call for symposia

The call for symposia will be posted in late December 2009 or early January 2010. Briefly, symposia are invited in any area of language acquisition and early learning of language(s). Symposia are 2 hours in duration and there are 4 presentations in each symposium. Details and procedure on how to submit a symposium will be posted online at the end of December. Deadline for symposium submission is July 2010.

The call for abstracts (poster sessions) will be posted 2 months after the call for symposia. Specific details and submission procedure will be posted on the website by March 2010. Deadline for poster abstracts is October 2010.

Preliminary program

A provisional program will be posted online as confirmations and schedules for various events, etc. are locked in.

Confirmed plenary speakers

Deb Roy MIT

Simon Fisher Oxford

Fred Genesee McGill

Penelope Brown MPI, NL

Practical information

Please, check the website regularly as of January 2010 for practical information about the conference venue, travel to and accommodation in Montreal, parallel events, etc.

Report on the International Conference on Multimodality of Communication in Children: Gestures, Emotions, Language and Cognition (Multimod 2009)

By Michèle Guidetti (University of Toulouse) & Jean-Marc Colletta (University of Grenoble 3)

The International Conference on "Multimodality of communication in children: gestures, emotions, language and cognition" (Multimod 2009), organized jointly by psychologists and linguists, took place in Toulouse, France on 9-11 July 2009. The program included 6 plenary talks, 8 symposia and 55 talks and posters.

More than 200 participants from 16 different countries all around the world attended the conference. The aim of the conference was to assess research, theories, concepts and methods related to multimodality in children, looking at both the typical and atypical aspects of the development of communication from not only a cross-cultural but also a cross-linguistic perspective.

We now plan to publish a selection of the participants' contributions as follows:

Please email inquiries to Michèle Guidetti

Report on the 33rd Stanford Child Language Research Forum (CLRF)

By Eve Clark & Inbal Arnon, Stanford University

The 33rd Stanford Child Language Research Forum was held in an unusual venue –– namely at UC Berkeley on 10-12 July 2009, during the Linguistic Society of America's Summer Institute. The topic this time was Experience and Variation in Learning a First Language. We had 2 invited speakers, William Croft (University of New Mexico) who talked about 'Language as process', and Thomas Griffiths (UC Berkeley) who talked about 'Connecting language learning and language evolution via Bayesian statistics'. The program included 18 paper-presentations and a round-table discussion on 'Units of language learning'. The meeting itself drew speakers from Australia, Estonia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with data on a variety of languages including Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Spanish. And it was well attended by both student and faculty participants from the Linguistics Institute.

Participants heard the following papers:

The Round Table participants were Marilyn Vihman & Virve-Anneli Vihman on 'From first words to segments: A case study of phonological development', Ann Peters & Edy Veneziano on 'A neglected path to the production of word combinations', and Silke Brandt, Arie Verhagen, Elena Lieven, & Michael Tomasello on 'Development of syntactic production across constructions and items'; the discussant was Inbal Arnon.

The full program, linked to the abstracts for each presentation, can be accessed at: (We anticipate that this site will be moved to the Linguistics webpage at Stanford.)

Report on the 34th Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD)

By Jane Chandlee, Boston University

Once again the first weekend in November 2009 brought a familiar sight to Boston University's George Sherman Union: the 34th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development took place on November 6th though 8th. Every year the conference brings together researchers from all over the globe who are pursuing a wide range of areas and topics in the field of language development. Both generative and non-generative perspectives are welcomed, and specializations include bilingualism, cognition, creoles and pidgins, dialects, discourse, narrative, gesture, hearing impairment and deafness, input and interaction, language disorders, linguistic theory, neurolinguistics, pragmatics, pre-linguistic development, reading and literacy, signed languages, sociolinguistics, speech perception and production, and computational modeling. With a full schedule of events, at any given time conference attendees were able to choose between attending a talk, looking at posters, and checking out the book exhibit – publishers represented this year included Wiley-Blackwell, Mouton de Gruyter, John Benjamins, Maney, the MIT Press, Cambridge University Press, Cascadilla Press, Psychology Press/Routledge, and Oxford University Press.

This year BUCLD's program included 81 twenty-minute papers presented in 3 parallel sessions, starting Friday morning and ending early Sunday afternoon. There were also 72 poster presentations, divided between Friday and Saturday. The posters were displayed all day in the Ziskind and Terrace lounges, where conference attendees congregated for breaks and to browse the book exhibit. There were then two attended poster sessions – one in the afternoon and one in the evening – during which the poster authors answered questions and engaged in discussions about their studies. The full program of paper and poster presentations represented a 29% acceptance rate of the 519 abstracts that were submitted this year.

Once again the conference committee was pleased to acknowledge 28 student authors with the Paula Menyuk Travel Award. Named for Paula Menyuk, Professor Emerita in the Developmental Studies and Applied Linguistics programs at Boston University, the award provides exceptional student presenters with a $300 stipend to assist with the costs of traveling to Boston for the weekend. This year's winners, representing 24 institutions, include Soondo Baek (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Christina Bergmann (Radboud University Nijmegen), Jared Berman (University of Calgary), Sarah Bibyk (Ohio State University), Mary-Jane Blais (McGill University), Neon Brooks (University of Chicago), Perrine Brusini (Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique), Krista Byers-Heinlein (University of British Columbia), Kaili Clackson (University of Essex), Marilyn Cyr (University of Quebec at Montreal), Miriam Ellert (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics), Antje Endesfelder Quick (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology), Melanie Green (University of Iowa), Emma Healey (University of Edinburgh), Sanne Kuijper (University of Groningen), Woo-yeol Lee (Yonsei University), Maxi Limbach (University of Cologne), Heather MacKenzie (University of Calgary), Susanne Militzer (University of Cologne), Duygu Ozge (Middle East Technical University), Silvia Perpinan (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Nadia Petruccelli (La Trobe University), Naoko Sawada (Nanzan University), Katrin Skoruppa (Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique), Zhijun Wen (University of Hawaii at Manoa), Sarah Wilson (University of California at Berkeley), Clare Wright (Newcastle University), and Yun Zhao (Carnegie Mellon University). In addition, this year marked the introduction of the Jean Berko Gleason Award for the top student papers. Professor Gleason, who is Professor Emerita of Psychology at Boston University, personally presented the award to the student first authors whose papers received the top two scores from the abstract reviewers: Tilbe Goksun, of Temple University, for her paper "The 'where' of events: How do English- and Japanese-reared infants discriminate grounds in dynamic events?" (co-authors K. Hirsh Pasek, M. Imai, H. Konishi, and R. Golinkoff) and Dimitrios Skordos, of the University of Delaware, for his paper "Extracting paths and manners: Linguistic and conceptual biases in the acquisition of spatial language" (co-author A. Papafragou).

This year's schedule also included a special "surprise" meeting on Friday afternoon, where conference attendees gathered to wish Professor Lila Gleitman a happy birthday. Everyone was invited to stand up and share a memory of or express gratitude to Professor Gleitman for her ongoing and significant contributions to the field. The fact that the event extended past its schedule slot shows how eager attendees were to say a few words in honor of Professor Gleitman, as well as enjoy a piece of birthday cake.

The premier events of BUCLD every year were the keynote and plenary addresses, as well as the lunchtime symposium. The keynote address was delivered Friday evening by Anne Fernald of Stanford University. Titled "Developing Fluency in Understanding: How it Matters", Fernald's talk focused on her latest work using an eyetracking procedure that requires infants to listen for meaning in spoken language. The findings include robust relations between real time measures of comprehension and linguistic development. The results have varied depending on the SES status of the families – specifically, children from families with low SES status showed a 6-month developmental delay when compared to children from families with higher SES status. Thus, Fernald argued, variation in early processing skills can predict later language outcomes. Saturday evening's plenary address was delivered by Virginia Valian of Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center. The talk was titled "Innate Syntax – Still the Best Hypothesis", and in it Valian argued 4 main claims – that nativism is easier to argue for than empiricism, that there is no middle ground between the two hypotheses, that empirical data can in fact support the claim of innate syntax, and that features, categories, and principles can all be innate. Lastly, this year's lunchtime symposium was titled "Recent Advances in the Study of Production and Comprehension: Implications for Language Acquisition Research" and featured speakers John C. Trueswell of the University of Pennsylvania, Michael K. Tanenhaus of the University of Rochester, and Kay Bock of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In his talk titled "The dynamics of event perception and event description: Implications for verb learning", Trueswell described eyetracking experiments on scene perception and linguistic and non-linguistic event encoding, including English grammatical subject identification and children's verb learning. Tanenhaus, in his talk titled "Common ground and perspective-taking in language processing", presented recent experimental results that use speakers' utterances to determine their assessment of whether knowledge is shared or private. And Kay Bock offered evidence that links number grammar to adult number apprehension, leading her to suggest how native number cognition may support the acquisition of number agreement.

Conference attendees (as well as those who missed out!) will be able to read many of the papers presented in the annual proceedings. All paper authors, including the featured keynote and plenary speakers, will be invited to submit their work to the BUCLD 34 Proceedings, published by Cascadilla Press and available in Spring 2010. Poster presenters will have the opportunity to submit paper versions of their work to the online supplement of the proceedings (available on the BUCLD website, address below, also starting in Spring 2010). Anyone interested in purchasing the proceedings for BUCLD 34 or previous years may do so at Cascadilla's website (

Next year's BUCLD will be held again at Boston University on November 5-7, 2010. Abstract submission runs April 1 – May 15, 2010; look for the call for papers on LinguistList, InfoChildes, Funknet, BILING, and other mailing lists in mid-January or February. More information about BUCLD this year and next is available at BUCLD is supported in part by NSF and NIH conference grants. Special thanks also to this year's faculty advisers – Shanley Allen, Cathy O'Connor, and Leher Singh – as well as the 2009 conference co-organizers and chairs – Kate Iserman, Katie Franich, Lauren Keil, Anna Belew, Nick Danis, Sierra Laidman, Whitney Rios, and Hyunsuk Sung – all graduate students at Boston University.

An interview with Gary Morgan on the language development of deaf children

By Angel Chan, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Gary Morgan

Gary Morgan sits on the IASCL executive board and in 2002 co-edited with Bencie Woll the Trends in Language Acquisition Research volume 'Directions in sign language acquisition' (John Benjamins). Gary is Professor of Psychology at City University London and Deputy Director of the ESRC research centre Deafness, Cognition and Language (DCAL) His research interests include sign language acquisition, deafness and cognitive development, British Sign Language (BSL), psycholinguistics of sign and gesture and specific language impairment (SLI). Gary and his team work on BSL development in deaf children of deaf parents, late language acquisition and its effect on language processing and social cognition, and recently identified a group of deaf children with SLI. Gary serves on the editorial board of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education.

Language development of deaf children is an exciting research area. I would like to take this opportunity to ask Gary some questions related to this topic, as well as asking him to share his thoughts on how studying the language development (spoken and signed) of deaf children might enrich our understanding of child language in general.

Angel Chan: Gary, how did you become interested in studying the language development of deaf children?

Gary Morgan: At the end of the 80's I took an undergraduate course with Elena Lieven at University of Manchester on language development which got me started. Later I read Melissa Bowerman and Dan Slobin's work on cross-linguistic differences in development. At the time I was learning British Sign Language and decided to try to combine the signing with language acquisition research. When I started my PhD I went to Nicaragua and saw how the deaf children there were contributing to the development of this new language which was an amazing personal and academic experience.

Angel Chan: Language development (spoken and signed) of deaf children is an exciting research area. What do you think are the interesting questions to address in this area?

Gary Morgan: Because 9/10 deaf children are born into families with no previous knowledge of signing or communicating with a deaf child, it sets up this environment where despite normal love and care the children have impoverished language experience. Hearing parents who sign with their children do so as non-native learners and the child's deafness means natural spoken language acquisition is going to be effortful. We can ask questions about nature and nurture that are impossible in any other group of hearing children: how does access to language impact cognitive development and what are the limits of the brain's plasticity for language? In the small group of children I study who have a sign language as a first language, we see not only universal patterns in development from the phonological and semantic characteristics of children's first signs to their narrative development, but also really interesting differences in the onset and rate of development, due to both the typology of the sign language and the perceptual modality – visual rather than auditory. In much the same way that children grow up bilingually without conscious effort, there is enough plasticity in the brain that children who are exposed to signing can become native signers.

Angel Chan: What are the challenges in studying language development of deaf children?

Gary Morgan: Congenital deafness affects about 1 in 1000 children and so it is a small population to study. If you want to study the most natural case of language acquisition – deaf/hearing children of deaf signing parents this makes the numbers even smaller. As there is so much variability between children in their language development, there is a challenge in doing case studies where it is not clear what typical development should look like. There are also very few standardized tests of sign language development. These days deafness is diagnosed within weeks of birth and medical intervention begins early. Researchers have to understand how the child's development is affected by the various medical professionals who work with the child (cochlear implant teams, audiologists, speech and language therapists). There is no uniformity for how deaf children grow up. Every child experiences different levels of language intervention (spoken or signed) depending on where they live and what kind of parents they have. This makes group studies of deaf children difficult to interpret. Studying sign language development is fascinating but a requirement is knowing how to sign yourself or working with researchers who are native signers – not only to understand the videos but to communicate what you are doing back to the deaf families and community. The work we do at DCAL involves deaf and hearing researchers working together and we receive a lot of input from the Deaf community in the dissemination of our results.

Angel Chan: Could you share with us some of your recent findings in this area?

Gary Morgan: We have identified a group of deaf children who use sign language but have severe language delays in comparison with their peers on standardized tests of BSL development. Some of these children have deaf parents. One explanation of Specific Language Impairment (SLI) focuses on auditory processing but cannot explain the linguistic impairments we are documenting in sign language. BSL has rich verbal morphology and a system of classifier constructions for describing the location and movement of entities. We are seeing that this aspect of the language is more affected by SLI than sign phonology (Mason et al in press). In another study we collected BSL and English CDI questionnaires from a large group of deaf children (both from deaf and hearing parents). We found that vocabulary development is slower in deaf children of deaf parents than hearing children of hearing parents contrary to the popular idea that signing is easier for children. We also discovered that in deaf children who are exposed to English and BSL at home, there were patterns in which language they preferred for particular semantic domains (Woolfe et al, in press). In a last study of deaf children's conversations with their hearing mothers, we found really different levels of abstract language used by the mothers to their 24-36 months old children. Hearing mothers used significantly less language about mental states, modulations of assertions and emotional terms with their deaf children than deaf mothers did with their hearing/deaf children and hearing mothers with their hearing children. This could be one of the contributions to non-native deaf children's typical delays in Theory of Mind development.

Angel Chan: How about your upcoming plans for research in this area?

Gary Morgan: We are planning a series of intervention studies at DCAL focusing on training for speech and language therapists on SLI in sign language and for parents in more effective ways to communicate with deaf children to promote Theory of Mind development. Our research work is continuing with studies looking at how working memory and executive functions are affected by deaf children's atypical access to language. We have begun to plan a series of studies looking at deaf children's literacy skills which is a particular challenge in reducing the educational gap between deaf and hearing children. In language development I am interested in why certain types of signs especially actions and labels for everyday things like eat, drink and see or umbrella, scarf and gloves are used more readily by hearing infants in their co-speech gesture and by deaf children in hearing and deaf families. What can this tell us about verb development in hearing children more generally and how sign languages evolve?

Angel Chan: In your opinion, how could studying the language development of deaf children enrich the study of child language in general?

Gary Morgan: I really believe that the old debate about how much nature and how much nurture is necessary for language development can be informed by looking at signing children. We see very predictable and common patterns in the native signer's acquisition of phonology and grammar, as well as the impact of modality on the rate of development. Theories that can include language acquisition by eye are preferable to those that take into account only one type of perceptual carrier of language. Looking at the early experiences of deaf children in hearing families reinforces what we know about how conversation and community stimulate language and social cognition.

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


Mason, K., Rowley, K., Marshall, C., Atkinson, J., Herman, R., Woll, B. & Morgan, G. (in press). Identifying Specific Language Impairments in Deaf children acquiring British Sign Language: implications for theory and practice. British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

Woolfe, T., Herman, R., Roy, P. & Woll, B. (in press). Early lexical development in native signers: a BSL adaptation of the MacArthur-Bates CDI. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology.

New Research Network: COST Action IS0804 "Bilingual SLI"

By Kleanthes Grohmann, University of Cyprus

Sharon Armon-Lotem from Bar-Ilan University was successful in her application to the European Science Foundation (ESF) to start up a new international research network funded through COST. The title of COST Action IS0804 is "Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society: Linguistic Patterns and the Road to Assessment". This research network, with the abbreviation BISLI (from the main focus of the Action, bilingual Specific Language Impairment), is briefly presented below, taken largely from the new website (, which is open to everyone. In the near future, all BISLI-related information and many materials will be made available as well.

Aim of COST Action IS0804 (BISLI)

Second language learners often produce language patterns resembling those of children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). The overlap among the features of bilingual and impaired language lead to methodological and clinical confusion, which this Action aims to resolve in order to improve language assessment of minority language children.

What is BISLI?

European migrations have led to dramatic increases in the number of children being raised with two or more languages in multilingual communities. The numbers of children who come to school with more than one language has increased over threefold since the year 2000 in Ireland, Italy and Spain and by 50% in the last two years in the UK. In the rest of Europe, this situation is far from unique.

At present, medical, language and educational professionals have only limited diagnostic instruments to distinguish bilingual migrant children with language impairments from those who will eventually catch up with their monolingual peers. In the Netherlands, for example, bilinguals constitute 14% of the mainstream school population, but 24% of them study in special schools for children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). If there were no misdiagnoses, the percentage of bilingual children should be identical in mainstream and special schools.

Main objective of BISLI:

To profile bilingual specific language impairment (SLI) by establishing a network that will coordinate research on the linguistic and cognitive abilities of bilingual children with SLI across different migrant communities.

Derived objectives:

Secondary objectives:

The BISLI Action is motivated:

How does BISLI operate?

The BISLI COST Action is a research network which gives the researchers involved the opportunity to meet twice a year and work out the program, to turn BISLI into a successful research enterprise. The researchers involved spread across 4 thematic working groups (WGs), whose main objectives are briefly summarized below. The expected outcomes aimed for within BISLI can be expressed as follows:

Working Group 1: Syntax and Interfaces with Morphology and Semantics

The most established linguistic indicators of SLI are found in syntax (sentence formation) and morphology (inflection of words). They are already being studied widely in bilingual SLI. Therefore, they serve as a starting point for this Action. WG1 will aim to identify structures which are less sensitive to cross-linguistic differences, and are vulnerable in monolingual and bilingual children with SLI, but not in typically developing bilingual children. In doing so, WG1 attempts to isolate the characteristics of bilingualism and language impairment.

Working Group 2: Narrative and Discourse

Telling a story, even supported by pictures, is difficult for children with SLI. WG2 will evaluate the ability of different tasks to elicit narratives and tap specifically bilingual properties. Examples of such tasks are: narratives in response to familiar and unfamiliar picture books, a bilingual retelling task, narratives without the benefit of picture stimuli, and an interactive task based on a controlled improvisation procedure. These tasks also allow for the assessment of language dominance and code-switching patterns.

Working Group 3: Lexical and Phonological Processing

For phonological processing and lexical processing there are rapid 'screening' tools. WG3 will estimate their potential for identifying SLI in bilinguals. Properties will be evaluated of non-word repetition and naming tasks to decide whether they are relevant for identifying SLI in bilingual populations with various language pairs. WG3 will also review bilingual lexical data in order to develop new bilingual measures of dominance and diversity.

Working Group 4: Executive Functions

Executive functions (like attention, inhibition, control) provide a promising direction for disentangling bilingualism and SLI. It is often assumed that executive functions are deficient in language-impaired children. Since tests for executive functioning are not necessarily language-dependent, they may provide a way of identifying indices of SLI without addressing language itself. WG4 will investigate which of these tasks are most appropriate for bilingual children with SLI and what are the best ways to adapt the tasks to the bilingual contexts.

Who is involved in BISLI?

Currently, 23 ESF-member states have signed the Memorandum of Understanding, a 24th expressed interest, and several non-ESF countries and institutions are involved already in one way or another ( This makes for a Management Committee of close to 50 researchers (, and the Action is continually growing.

The Steering Group of the BISLI Action is set up as follows:

Chair: Sharon Armon-Lotem (Bar-Ilan University)
Vice-Chair: Jan de Jong (University of Amsterdam)
WG1 Leaders: Theo Marinis (University of Reading) & Petra Schulz (University of Frankfurt)
WG2 Leaders: Natalia Gagarina (ZAS Berlin) & Joel Walters (Bar-Ilan University)
WG3 Leaders: Dolors Girbau (University Jaume I Riu Sec Castell) & Ewa Haman (University of Warsaw)
WG4 Leaders: Anne Baker (University of Amsterdam) & Kristine Jensen de Lopez (University of Aalberg)
STSM Manager: Laurie Tuller (University of Tour)
Dissemination Manager: Kleanthes K. Grohmann (University of Cyprus)

For additional information, please visit the website ( In case of more questions, please send your inquiries by email to

Enhancing Literacy Development in European Languages: Marie Curie Initial Training Network within the European Commission's FP7 People

By Marína Mikulajová (Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia) & Markéta Caravolas (Bangor University, UK)

It is generally agreed that our understanding of reading and spelling development comes mostly from research with English speaking children. The models of written language acquisition that predominate and are currently widely applied for clinical purposes (approaches and methods used for diagnostics and treatment of dyslexia) come from studies of learning in the opaque English orthography. In the last two decades it has become increasingly evident that cognitive developmental processes in learning to read and spell are partly influenced and modified by a language's orthography itself (by its degree of opacity) and by teaching/learning methods that reflect and correspond with its specific features.

Motivated by the need for a coordinated crosslinguistic research programme to investigate typical and atypical reading and writing development, the ELDEL (Enhancing Literacy Development in European Languages, ITN project was created under the leadership of Dr. Markéta Caravolas, with colleagues sharing expertise and experience in the field in 7 universities in 5 countries: United Kingdom (University of Bangor, M. Caravolas, and University of York, M. Snowling, C. Hulme), France (Université de Poitiérs - CNRS, D. Alamargot, and Université Blaise Pascal – CNRS, M. Fayol), Spain (University of Granada, S. Defior), Czech republic (Charles University in Prague, A. Kucharská, G. Malková) and Slovakia (Comenius University in Bratislava, M. Mikulajová). The project has several aims:

  1. to provide a cutting-edge, multifaceted training environment for young researchers interested in the scientific study of literacy development
  2. to create a model of early literacy acquisition in typically developing children based on a crosslinguistic research methodology using the same methods and comparable stimuli in English (Germanic), two Romance languages (French and Spanish) and two Slavic languages (Czech and Slovak)
  3. to answer questions concerning the contribution of core cognitive (perceptual, memory, learning etc.) abilities, specific linguistic (phonological, morpho-syntactical, semantic) processes and environmental factors in dyslexia and how these can be identified in groups of children at risk of developing literacy problems

The network represents a team of senior scientists from different but interrelated areas of expertise (reading and spelling development, language acquisition, SLI and dyslexia, computational linguistics), and 21 fellows – early stage researchers and experienced researchers from European, North and South American countries participating in the project for 24 to 36 months. They are involved in 6 „work packages" that focus on different aspects of reading, spelling and writing development.

The essential part of the program includes a) network-wide training activities in advanced research and analysis methods in psycholinguistics, for longitudinal, clinical and experimental studies, as well as writing and dissemination skills; and b) local training activities such as generic complementary and specialist modules and seminars that are offered by host institutions. The network also organizes twice a year a 3-day workshop with an invited lecture given by a prominent external speaker; 3 workshops have already been successfully realized. In Spring 2011, a two-day conference is planned on cross-linguistic and multi-language studies of literacy development. It is intended in part to showcase the fellows' work by giving them the opportunity to organize events and to present papers based on their research.

This international 4-year project is now in its second year (2008-2012). To date, more than 1000 typically developing children and about 170 SLI children and children of dyslexic parents from 5 European languages have been assessed by comparable batteries of more than 20 measures mapping key developmental processess and will be investigated according to our 3-year longitudinal methodology. The expectation and wish of the members of ELDEL team is that the research programme will lead to an up-to-date model of reading and spelling development in European (alphabetic) languages, which will in turn enrich our current understanding of literacy development in all languages.



What: Workshop on Milestones in the First Language Acquisition of Chinese
When: 29-30 December 2009
Where: Hong Kong, China

What: Haifa Workshop on Psycholinguistics
When: 4-5 January 2010 (5 Jan 2010: CLAN tutorial by Brian MacWhinney)
Where: Haifa, Israel

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

What: Let the Children Speak: Learning of Critical Language Skills across 25 Languages (a European-Wide Initiative on Language Acquisition and Language Impairment)
When: 22-24 January 2010
Where: London, UK

What: The Conference on Sign Linguistics and Deaf Education in Asia
When: 28–30 January 2010
Where: Hong Kong, China

What: Experimental Methods in Language Acquisition Research (EMLAR VI)
When: 3-5 Feb 2010
Where: Utrecht, Netherlands

What: Die 6. Interdisziplinären Tagung über Sprachentwicklungsstörungen (ISES 6) (The 6th Interdisciplinary Conference on Language Impairment)
When: 11-13 March 2010
Where: Rostock, Germany
Details: (see also the section "Further Announcements")

What: 11th Tokyo Conference on Psycholinguistics 2010 (TCP2010)
When: 12-13 March 2010
Where: Tokyo, Japan

What: Workshop on Bilingualism and Language Acquisition: Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series
When: 17 March 2010
Where: Hong Kong, China

What: Conference on Human Development
When: 9-11 April 2010
Where: New York, USA

What: The 18th International Conference of the Spanish Society for Applied Linguistics (AESLA2010)
When: 15-17 April 2010
Where: Vigo, Spain

What: Beyond the Words
When: 13-15 May 2010
Where: Leipzig, Germany

What: The 4th International Conference on Language, Culture and Mind (LCM 4)
When: 21-23 June 2010
Where: Turku, Finland

What: The 13th Meeting of the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association (ICPLA 13)
When: 23-26 June 2010
Where: Oslo, Norway

What: The 6th Annual Symposium of the Society for Language Development
When: 4 November 2010
Where: Boston, USA


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

What: Japanese Society for Language Sciences 12th Annual International Conference (JSLS2010)
When: 26-27 June 2010
Where: University of Electro-Communications (UEC, Denki Tsushin Daigaku, Japan)
Submission Deadline: 24 January 2010

What: The 3rd UK Cognitive Linguistics conference (UK-CLC3)
When: 6-8 July 2010
Where: University of Hertfordshire, UK
Submission Deadline: 31 December 2009

What: The 21st International Congress of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development (ISSBD)
When: 18- 22 July 2010
Where: Lusaka, Zambia, Africa
Submission Deadline: 31 December 2009

What: Measuring Behavior 2010: The 7th International Conference on Methods and Techniques in Behavioral Research
When: 24 - 27 August 2010
Where: Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Submission Deadline: 5 January 2010 (symposia and workshop proposals); 19 April 2010 (symposium (speaker) abstracts)

What: The Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition in North America (GALANA 4)
When: 1-3 September 2010
Where: Toronto, Canada
Submission Deadline: 15 February 2010

What: The 20th Annual Conference of the European Second Language Association (EUROSLA20)
When: 1-4 September 2010
Where: Reggio Emilia, Italy
Submission Deadline: 15 February 2010

What: The 6th International Conference on Language Acquisition
When: 8-10 September 2010
Where: Barcelona, Spain
Submission Deadline: 15 February 2010

What: Second Language Research Forum (SLRF 2010)
When: 14-17 October 2010
Where: University of Maryland, USA
Submission Deadline: 1 May 2010

What: The 35th Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD)
When: 5-7 November 2010
Where: Boston, USA
Submission Deadline: 15 May 2010 (the call for papers will go out in mid Jan or Feb 2010)


Editor: Susan Foster-Cohen
Title: Language Acquisition
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 978-0-2305-0029-7 (hbk); 978-0-2305-0030-3 (pbk)

Language learners come in all sizes. Children learn one language; they learn many. Older children and adults add languages. Some children learn language against the odds, faced as they are by developmental difficulties of many kinds. How do learners meet these different language acquisition challenges?

What role does the ability to read the minds of others play in the development of syntax? Do children know they are learning words when they do it? Are children more or less conservative than adults when they understand words like 'some' and 'and'? Do we really know the impact of the language we speak to children? Can we really talk about one language being more dominant than another in a child's repertoire? How do cultural patterns of language use impact on the development of language?

We may have moved beyond the conception of language development as nature versus nurture, but we remain uncertain of the exact roles played by the nature of the human animal and the nature of the language environment that learners develop in. We are also by no means in agreement about the important questions to ask and the theoretical frameworks within which to ask or answer them!

This volume provides a snapshot of the field of language acquisition at the beginning of the 21st Century. It represents the multiplicity of approaches that characterize this energetic sub field of linguistics and provides readers with a review of current topics and debates, as well as addressing some of the connections between sub-fields and possible future directions for research in first language, second language, bilingualism, and language disorder in languages that are spoken, manual, and written.

Editor: John Grinstead
Title: Hispanic Child Languages
Subtitle: Typical and Impaired Development
Publisher: John Benjamins
ISBN: 978-9-0272-5311-8 (hbk); 978-9-0272-9058-8 (electronic)

This book contains 12 papers contributed by leading scholars in the field of language development, studying variants of the languages which originated on the Iberian Peninsula. The contributors examine language development in both typically-developing and language-impaired populations, who are learning language in diverse learning conditions, including language contact, as well as monolingual and bilingual Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Euskera. This expansion and diversification of the database for studying language development is important because it creates new opportunities for testing theoretical claims. Our contributors reconsider theoretical claims relating to the purported adult-like nature of young children's grammars. While some conclude, for example, that children in Mexico possess very adult-like semantic-pragmatic competence in the domain of the pragmatic implicatures associated with existential quantifiers, others conclude that, in particular sociolinguistic registers of Chilean Spanish, children are late to develop adult-like competence in plural marking. Taken together, the contents of the volume illustrate how the linguistic diversity found in the distinct learning conditions in which language develops offers a wealth of opportunities to further our understanding of linguistic and non-linguistic cognitive development.

Author: Aliyah Morgenstern
Title: L'enfant dans la langue (The Child in Language)
Publisher: Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle
ISBN: 978-2-87854-462-6

Nowadays, researchers who study language acquisition in spontaneous data generally work on video recordings lined with transcriptions and use sophisticated software to conduct their analyses. But at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, a number of scientists from different fields (historians, biologists, doctors, psychologists, philosophers, etc) held daily diaries on the development of their own children which enabled them to have wonderful intuitions about child language which they linked to the general development of the child or to the origins of language.

In the first part of this book, the author presents a historical panorama of the observations and the thoughts of those scientists and their pioneer work on natural data. The detailed follow-ups of children's language anchored in their daily lifes is a source of fascinating links between motor and psychological development, cognition, affectivity and language.

The second part of the book is devoted to five contemporary studies conducted in collaboration with researchers form the Leonard Project ( on

  1. the emergence of grammaticalization
  2. the importance of pointing as a precursor of language
  3. children's first predications
  4. the emergence of nominal determination
  5. first prepositions

This work was conducted by a linguist who has used enunciative and cognitive approaches to language in collaboration with other linguists but is accessible to psychologists, speech therapists, and readers who are interested in language and language acquisition. The work was done in collaboration with Sandra Benazzo, Marie Leroy, Emmanuelle Mathiot, Christophe Parisse, Anne Salazar Orvig, Martine Sekali.

Editors: Marilyn Nippold, Cheryl Scott
Title: Expository Discourse in Children, Adolescents, and Adults: Development and Disorders
Series Title: New Directions in Communication Disorders Research
Publisher: Taylor & Francis

School success in the 21st century requires proficiency with expository discourse -- the use and understanding of informative language in spoken and written modalities. This occurs, for example, when high school students read their textbooks and listen to their teachers' lectures, and later are asked to demonstrate their knowledge of this complex topic through oral reports and essay examinations.

Although many students are proficient with the expository genre, others struggle to meet these expectations. This book is designed to provide information on the use and understanding of expository discourse in school-age children, adolescents, and young adults. Recently, researchers from around the world have been investigating the development of this genre in typical students and in those with language disorders. Although many books have addressed the development of conversational and narrative discourse, by comparison, books devoted to the topic of expository discourse are sparse.

This cross-disciplinary volume fills that gap in the literature and makes a unique contribution to the study of language development and disorders. It will be of interest to a range of professionals, including speech-language pathologists, teachers, linguists, and psychologists who are concerned with language development and disorders.

Author: Matthew Saxton
Title: Child Language: Acquisition and Development
Publisher: Sage
ISBN: 978-1-4129-0231-1 (hbk); 978-1-4129-0232-8 (pbk)

"A superbly clear, well-written and thorough account of child language" Jean Aitchison, Emeritus Professor, Oxford University

This book is aimed at students of psychology new to the field of child language with no prior background in linguistics. All terms – from verb to verb argument structure - are defined and explained in a glossary and via plentiful examples and exercises in the text. Aids to learning include:

The book adopts a balanced approach to the nature-nurture issue and aims to equip students to think about critical issues for themselves.


Author: Nini Hoiting
Title: The Myth of Simplicity: Sign Language Acquisition by Dutch Deaf Toddlers
Institution: University of Groningen
A Note about the Deaf Communities: The thesis was successfully defended and was approved with distinction at the University of Groningen on November 30, 2009. Members of Deaf communities from all over the Netherlands came to celebrate this public acknowledgment of their language-- Sign Language of the Netherlands --at one of the major research universities of the country. For the first time in a Groningen thesis defense, there were sign language interpreters, whose Sign Language of the Netherlands translations were projected onto two big screens at the front of the aula. At the end, the Rector Magnificus (the Dutch title for Chancellor or President of the University), Dr. Prof. Frans Zwarts, graciously welcomed the Deaf and expressed his pleasure in their attendance. Dr. Prof. Frans Zwarts is a linguistics professor and chair of Nini Hoiting's dissertation. The thesis is available as a book and as a pdf file from Nini Hoiting

The purported simplicity of early use of Sign Language of the Netherlands (SLN) is forcefully undermined by the author of this thesis. She analyzed sign acquisition in three groups of deaf children, learning SLN from Deaf or from hearing parents, or Sign-Supported Dutch (SSD) from hearing parents. The author designed a vocabulary assessment measure and, collaborating with American researchers, created a meaning-based transcription system for sign languages. Her analyses of early sign vocabularies concludes that all three deaf groups, in comparison with hearing children acquiring spoken languages, pay relatively greater attention to verbs than nouns. She argues that sign languages are morphologically head-marking, with a consequent heavier role for verbs than in dependent-marking languages like Dutch and English. Quantitatively, vocabularies of children acquiring SLN are ahead of those acquiring SSD, and children with deaf parents show richest early development. Morphosyntactic analysis of complexity shows the same developmental patterning of the three deaf groups. Complex verb constructions put high demands on toddlers in mastering grammatical uses of eye-gaze and signing space. Finally, comparisons of linguistic input provided by deaf and hearing parents and teachers demonstrate the profit of early exposure to a natural language such as SLN, in comparison with SSD. Hearing parents using SLN have access to natural techniques of simplifying structures which are not available in the simultaneous use of speech and signing required by SSD. This result supports previous findings of the inadequacy of sign systems for primary language development.

Author: Ruth Nicholls
Title: The Development of English Morphology by Simultaneous Bilingual Preschool Age Children
Institution: The University of Melbourne

Many millions of children around the world are exposed to more than one language. However, despite the predominance of bilingualism, much remains unknown regarding the language development of children acquiring more than one language (bilingual or multilingual), compared with children acquiring one language only (monolingual). A greater understanding of bilingual language acquisition is crucial given the increasing number of children being raised in linguistically diverse environments, such as in Australia.

Australia's linguistic diversity is of particular relevance to Speech Pathologists who work with persons from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. A major challenge currently facing Speech Pathologists is evaluating the language skills of linguistically diverse children. Knowledge of the typical developmental progression of children acquiring more than one language is necessary in order to accurately identify children with atypical language development.

A prospective longitudinal cohort study was conducted in Melbourne, Australia, which examined English development among children simultaneously acquiring English and another language/s during the preschool years, compared with monolingual English-speaking children. This study was embedded within the framework of the Early Language in Victoria Study, a prospective longitudinal cohort study investigating the epidemiology and natural history of language impairment and literacy problems across the first 7 years of life. The overall aim of the embedded doctoral study was to investigate the acquisition of English expressive morphology by children simultaneously acquiring English and another language/s during the preschool years. The objective of this research is to contribute towards and extend current knowledge of language development in simultaneous bilingual children.

A baseline group of 74 bilingual children and 74 monolingual children was recruited into the doctoral study and completed a baseline assessment at approximately three years of age (N = 148). The sub-groups were matched according to gender, age and socio-economic status. Thirty three languages other than English were represented within this community cohort. A sub-set of the baseline group (n = 78) was recruited into a longitudinal group and completed two follow-up assessments in six month intervals. Data were collected from all participants via a direct language assessment, which measured and tracked the participants' development and mastery of English morphology between approximately three to four years of age. An interview was completed with the bilingual participants' parents at the baseline and final assessments, to investigate the bilingual children's language experiences during the study.

The results from this study reveal a range of similarities and differences between bilingual and monolingual children's acquisition of English morphology during the preschool years. For example, whilst the bilingual and monolingual groups generally demonstrated differing levels of English morphological development, the children evidenced similar patterns in their mastery of the morphological forms. The findings contribute a greater understanding of bilingual children's language development during the preschool years and are beneficial to clinicians and researchers within the international field of bilingualism.

Author: Antje Orgassa
Title: Specific Language Impairment in a Bilingual Context
Subtitle: The Acquisition of Dutch Inflection by Turkish-Dutch Learners
Series Title: LOT Dissertation Series
Institution: University of Amsterdam
Publisher: Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics / Landelijke – LOT
ISBN: 978-9-0783-2899-5

With the aim of specifying the relationship between SLI and L2 acquisition, production data of various groups of L1 and L2 learners with and without SLI were compared. The experiments centered on the application of morphosyntactic rules in Dutch that were considered vulnerable in SLI and L2 acquisition. The results of systematic cross-group comparisons of error types and error frequencies contribute to the ongoing theoretical debate as to whether (L2-)SLI is caused by linguistic-representational deficits or by processing limitations. The issue of age dependencies on grammatical rule learning is also discussed in relation to L2 acquisition. The central claim in this book is that the similarities in error patterns across the impaired and unimpaired child L1 and child L2 groups indicate that all children rely on the same linguistic resources to derive grammar. The persistent problems with inflectional morphology in the SLI groups are interpreted in terms of processing limitations that affect either the intake needed to derive rules or the degree of automaticity to apply rules once established. The present study also reveals how reduced intake affects typical child L2 acquisition. If a large amount of consistent input is needed to derive grammar, it is possible that both SLI and L2(-SLI) children may fossilize in immature stages resulting in incomplete structure-specific representations. Interestingly, then, processing accounts and representational accounts can be related.

This study is of interest to scholars working in the field of clinical linguistics, L1 and L2 acquisition, inflectional morphology and educators and therapists working with atypical language development in multilingual settings.

Author: Nelleke Strik
Title: Syntaxe et Acquisition des Phrases Interrogatives en Français et en Néerlandais: une Etude Contrastive
Institution: Université Paris 8

This dissertation examines the syntax and acquisition of simple and Long Distance Wh-questions in French and Dutch. Wh-questions involve different types of syntactic movement, namely of the Wh-word and of the inflected verb. French is particularly rich with respect to the variety of Wh-constructions. The Wh-word may occur in initial position, but may also remain in situ. Furthermore, subject-verb inversion is possible, but not obligatory. In Dutch, the Wh-word is always fronted and because Dutch is a V2 language, inversion is obligatory.

Given the typological differences between French and Dutch, the aim of the thesis is to determine through which developmental stages children in both languages pass and to carry out a systematic comparison between the two languages. Therefore, an elicited production task has been developed in both French and Dutch. Subjects are 3, 4 and 6 year-old monolingual French-speaking and Dutch-speaking children and adults (12 subjects in each group).

The hypothesis put forward is that the development of Wh-questions is determined by the Derivational Complexity Hypothesis (DCH) (cf. Jakubowicz 2005, Jakubowicz & Strik 2008), which proposes that derivational complexity can be calculated by a metric. According to the DCH, syntactically less complex derivations should emerge before more complex derivations.

In particular, in the acquisition of Long Distance Wh-questions, a contrast between the French and the Dutch children appears. The Dutch-speaking children produce more non-standard less complex constructions, such as Partial Movement and Wh Copying questions, both containing an overt Wh-word in the medial position, than the French-speaking children. Moreover, the French-speaking children produce relatively few Wh in situ questions, which are the least complex questions according to the DCH.

The suggestion is made that the relative syntactic simplicity of Wh in situ and Partial Movement questions can be counterbalanced by higher processing costs in Logical Form (LF). Syntactic operations are constrained by others factors, like interpretational requirements (guided by LF) and working memory. More generally, the claim is that LF transparent derivations are less complex than derivations that are more opaque for LF and that language acquisition involves tension between derivational simplicity and interpretational ease.


From the Editors of Journal of Child Language and Cambridge University Press

2009 has been a busy year on Journal of Child Language, which is IASCL's official journal. JCL moved from 4 to 5 issues a year and has taken full advantage of the Cambridge Journals Online platform to publish articles online ahead of print. The so-called 'First View' table of contents may be viewed at and all the articles are fully citable. This, in addition to JCL's wide international circulation of over 2000, enables researchers' work to reach the widest scholarly community as quickly as possible. Our online submission system, which has been in place for several years now, enables the Editorial Team to normally turn around papers within four months (from submission to first decision). We hope that you will consider submitting your own research to the journal and will also encourage your graduate students to do so.

In addition to these editorial developments, work has been afoot to digitize the entire back run of the journal. If your institution has access to the JCL archive, you can enjoy searching and reading full text articles going back to 1974. And any visitor to the JCL home page, subscriber or not, will be able to search across both current and archive content. And finally, in case you don't realize, as a member of IASCL, you are entitled to a large reduction on a personal subscription to JCL (£27/$48 for print or £20/$30 for online only). To order, simply email

Invitation to Participate in the First Meeting of a New Interdisciplinary Professional Society for Children with Speech and Language Disorders

By Julia Siegmüller (Speech and Language Therapy Institute of Research, EMS Academy of Medicine and Therapy, Rostock) & Annette Fox-Boyer (Dept of Speech and Language Therapy, Hochschule Fresenius, Hamburg)

Research on speech, language and communication disorders has always been a meeting point for researchers from different disciplines and practitioners in therapy. In 2000 the ISES (Interdisciplinary Conference on Language Disorders) was founded in Munich in order to create for the first time a German-speaking forum where everybody working and researching in this field was able to meet and share his/her experiences and research results. Since then the community working in this field has grown and thus we now would like to continue and extend this work in the foundation of an interdisciplinary professional society. The aim of this project is to create a platform for more awareness outside our research and work community for children with speech and language disorders.

At the 6th Interdisziplinären Tagung über Sprachentwicklungsstörungen (ISES 6) which will take place from the 11th to the 13th of March 2010 in Rostock, we will have our first meeting for the foundation of the new society. The meeting aims to bring together researchers, practitioners, patients and parents in German-speaking countries. On March the 13th we would like to introduce our ideas and plans concerning this society. On that date we will not only introduce our ideas concerning the foundation but also discuss the following ideas with all interested researchers and practitioners:

We would like to invite all participants of the ISES 6 to participate in this meeting. Information about how to participate as well as the ISES 6 program can be found at


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