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IASCL - Child Language Bulletin - Vol 34, No 1: August 2014
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Report: The 13th International Congress for the Study of Child Language (IASCL 2014)

Anne Baker (Chair), Jan de Jong, Steven Gillis, Frank Wijnen and Akke de Blauw (Conference Organizers)

Enjoying delightfully warm summer weather about 700 colleagues from 50 different countries gathered in the old part of the city for five days for 5 plenary talks, 63 symposia, 279 talks, and 295 posters. The conference got off to a flying start with an opening in the Aula of the university (an eighteenth century Lutheran church) which was honored with an address by Princess Laurentien, sister-in-law of the Dutch king. She has a particular interest in children’s language since she supports foundations for literacy and dyslexia as well as being an author of children’s books herself, so she was able to talk very much to the point. Anne Senghas gave the first plenary lecture on the development of a new language and the relationship between language acquisition and language change. For those of you who could not attend, all plenaries were streamed and can be accessed still via Most were also interpreted for deaf participants, a new development in the IASCL organization. The programme with all the symposium and poster abstracts can be downloaded at The minutes of our IASCL 2014 business meeting can be downloaded at:

Tuesday saw a plenary by Morten Christiansen on processing, challenging purely linguistic accounts of acquisition. It gave people much to think about. Eve Clark was also presented with a book made in her honor (followed on Wednesday by a symposium also dedicated to her). Wednesday’s plenary by Debbie Mills focused on neurological evidence on bilingualism and Thursday’s lecture picked up both the previous topics in Elma Blom’s presentation on bilingual children with SLI. Friday’s lecture on Turkish spatial prepositions was focused on the contribution of cross-linguistic data – so take a language like Turkish, not always English. This was appropriate for that day since Dan Slobin received the Roger Brown award, particularly for his contribution to the cross-linguistic approach. The Student Poster Awards went to the best three posters (Imme Lamertink, Matt Hilton and Rosemary Hodges) and a special award went to the best poster on multilingualism (Siobhan Nic Fhlannchadka).

Many people attended the conference dinner which took everyone by boat a little around Amsterdam then to a restaurant on the other side of the harbor. Everyone seemed to have a good time. More than 60 people did the linguistic walk around Amsterdam after the poster sessions learning about history through street names and gable stones.

We wouldn’t say we would do it again tomorrow but we were all agreed that it was very worthwhile to have hosted this event.

Below a photo of the closing ceremony with a huge bouquet being presented to Anne Baker by Brian MacWhinney and Eve Clark in the Aula.


Number of IASCL Conference Papers and Contributors from 1981 to 2014

Virginia Valian, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center; Brian MacWhinney, Carnegie Mellon University

We and our teams have compiled information on the number of presentations and presenters at IASCL conferences from 1981 to 2014. The 1981 conference in Vancouver had 122 abstracts. The 2014 conference in Amsterdam had 574. The field has indeed increased!

The programs from which these numbers were extracted can be found at For most of the more recent meetings, these programs contain a lot of information, including abstracts.

We hope that this information about the growing size of the field may be useful when you are making requests for support of any sort, whether through funding agencies or within your institution.

New PhonBank Corpora and Upcoming Release of Phon 2.0

Yvan Rose & Gregory Hedlund, Memorial University of Newfoundland; Brian MacWhinney, Carnegie Mellon University

In the lines below, we provide a brief update from the PhonBank project within CHILDES. Since our last update, we have engaged in the forma At the most recent Congress of the International Association for the Study of Child Language (this past July in Amsterdam), we announced significant additions to the PhonBank database and also offered a demonstration of the main new functions included in our release of Phon 2.0 early this fall. In the lines below, we summarize these developments in turn. We then offer a brief outlook on the work ahead.

A. PhonBank corpora

Since our last update (Child Language Bulletin - Vol 33, No 2: December 2013), we have more than doubled the size of the PhonBank database, through the completion of our conversions of the English-Providence and French-Lyon corpora, originally contributed by Katherine Demuth, Harriet Jias and their colleagues, into the Phon format. In addition, we welcomed an expanded version of the original Polish-Weist corpus by Gaja Jarosz. This is a prime example of how original CHILDES corpora can be further transcribed and analyzed, and in turn expand the cross-linguistic coverage of our data set. Finally, we added three brand new longitudinal cases studies to both the CHILDES and the PhonBank databases, each of which originated from doctoral research projects. The first, by Tara McAllister Byun, documents a young English-learning boy with phonological disorders. The second, by Naomi Yamaguchi, further expands the set of phonological studies on European French. Finally, Laetitia Almeida contributed a corpus of French-Portuguese bilingual development, the design of which facilitates systematic comparisons between the child's development of her two native languages.

Currently in the pipeline we have an important number of new and expanded corpora that we will release throughout the next period. These include new languages (e.g. Arabic, German, Spanish, Catalan, Berber) as well as new learning contexts (e.g. second language acquisition, additional bilingual settings, and new studies of protracted phonological development). Together, these corpora will expand the scope of our empirical exploration of issues in phonological development.

With this positive background in mind, we would like to remind everyone engaging with a new corpus development project to get in touch with us as soon as possible. We are doing our very best to work with our research partners to facilitate every step from data preparation to their publication within CHILDES/PhonBank, typically after the successful publication of the first works building on these corpora. Early conversations about these important projects often provide up-front solutions (for example about ethical considerations or approaches to data coding) which can prove significant time (and stress) savers for everyone.

B. The upcoming 2.0 version of Phon

In parallel to our work on the database, we are within just a few weeks of releasing the second generation of the Phon software program. As mentioned above, we demoed some of the most central functions of this upcoming release at the last IASCL meeting. The most significant advance in this project is the incorporation of support for acoustic measurement data extracted through Praat. Among other actions, the user will be able to:

In brief, Phon can now be used as a central system not only to transcribe, annotate, and query transcription data, but also to investigate these data based on their acoustic properties. This development will open new and exciting research opportunities, for example through the consideration of acoustic data within analyses traditionally performed based on impressionistic phonetic transcriptions only.

In addition, this new version of Phon will come with a range of improvements to the application, both in terms of functionality and concerning the program's graphical user interface. We have added syllabification algorithms for Arabic, Berber, Polish, Slovak, and Swedish, made improvements to many existing algorithms, and provided support for new phone classes such as geminate consonants. Coming with these improvements to data annotation functions is a significant expansion to Phonex, the language supported within Phon to perform queries based on phonological concepts Phonex now supports grouping and quantification (reluctant and greedy). (The interested reader can consult for an overview of these concepts.)

At the interface level, we have re-written the IPA Lookup and Find & Replace functions in ways which we hope will streamline aspects of the workflow. Within IPA Lookup, it is now easier to select among pronunciation variants (e.g. [ə] or [ˈeɪ] for 'a' in English). The Find & Replace system also has a new interface, and now supports plain text, regular and phonological expressions (regex and phonex) in multiple tiers as well as regex/phonex group references in replace expressions.

We are currently completing our development work on many of the functions described above, and running test routines on a regular basis. While it is always difficult to anticipate release dates, we are hoping to launch Phon 2.0 this coming September. We will then be in a position to engage with the research community. Our priorities will then be two-fold: perform further testing and optimization of Phon's functions, and expand on the set of analyses supported by the application. We will also engage work with colleagues specializing in speech analysis to address issues specific to the acoustics of child language (e.g. high fundamental pitch frequencies; physiologically-different vocal resonators), many of which might require the modification of Praat settings set, which the user can also control from within Phon. We thus anticipate incremental updates to the application throughout the next months.

Update from Journal of Child Language

Melissa Good (Commissioning Editor (Linguistics) of Cambridge University Press) & Heike Behrens (Editor of Journal of Child Language)

It’s been a busy summer for the Journal of Child Language (JCL), with a poster prize and reception, an editorial board meeting and a special journal supplement at the IASCL conference in Amsterdam.

'Reflections: 40 years of JCL’, a special supplement issue of the journal, is available free until the end of 2014. A number of distinguished scholars who helped to shape the field reflect on the past and the future of language acquisition with views from several research fields and theoretical approaches. Click below to see the table-of-contents:

Also, the journal’s 2014 Impact Factor was released by Thomson Reuters on July 29. JCL’s 1-year Impact Factor of 1.505 places it at 20 out of 161 journals in the Linguistics Journals Citation Report (JCR) and 55 out of 83 in the Experimental Psychology JCR. The 5-year impact factor is at 2.032, a very pleasing sign of the journal’s success.

Finally, in the last week of July Cambridge ‘switched on’ Altmetric functionality for JCL and some of the other linguistics journals on the list. Altmetric provides detailed analyses of the online activity surrounding scholarly literature, giving readers an accurate picture of its online reach. With the sharing of articles between peers being increasingly seen as an indicator of an article’s impact, this means of quantifying social usage adds credibility to online readership. Altmetric collates an article’s popularity by monitoring the quality and quantity of attention that it receives online, and giving it a unique score.

Altmetric then marks the article with a clear visual key, breaking down its influence into segments each denoting where it has been viewed or shared. This gives a comprehensive overview of social reach, allowing readers and authors alike to see how and where the article is being discussed online. Within just a few days, we had a record that several articles in the journal had been tweeted. We will keep an eye on developments and should be able to pull together some article ‘scores’ in the coming months.

International Recognition of TALKBANK/CHILDES: CLARIN, DSA

Brian MacWhinney, Carnegie Mellon University

I am happy to announce that in April 2014 both the and the websites received the Data Seal of Approval ( based on the implementation of a variety of data protection and archiving standards such as persistent ids (PIDs), consistent metadata, systematic backup, documentation of methods, contribution guidelines, etc. You can see the new DSA logos at the bottom of the CHILDES and TalkBank homepages.

In addition, the overall TalkBank system was on 15 April 2014 approved as a member of the international CLARIN ( Federation of language data centers, funded by grants from the European Union and member countries. TalkBank is the only CLARIN center outside of the EU, but hopefully there will be others in the future. You will also now find the CLARIN logo at the bottom of the CHILDES and TalkBank pages.

The addition of CHILDES and TalkBank to CLARIN and the receipt of the DSA approval are based on the work that Leonid Spektor did for creating CMDI Metadata and Handle Server PIDs and on work that Franklin Chen did to set up methods for SSL secure logon, XML validation, and InCommon federated login. These various structures will be increasingly important in the future as CLARIN develops new web services and searching methods such as the Virtual Language Observatory.

Child Language Symposium 2015 and Gesture in Language Development Workshop

Katherine Messenger, University of Warwick

The next Child Language Symposium (formerly Child Language Seminar) will be held at the University of Warwick (Coventry, UK) on Monday 20th July - Tuesday 21st July, 2015.

The Child Language Symposium is an interdisciplinary conference with a long tradition which attracts a diverse international audience of linguists, psychologists and speech-language therapists and provides a forum for research on language acquisition and developmental language disorders.

We are pleased to announce that our keynote speakers will be:

Julie Dockrell, Institute of Education, University of London, UK
Susan Goldin-Meadow, University of Chicago, USA
Bob McMurray, University of Iowa, USA
Marilyn Vihman, University of York, UK

The Symposium will consist of two days of talks and two poster sessions. There will be a gala dinner on Monday 20th.

A call for papers will be made in the autumn and further details about submissions and registration will appear online shortly (please see for details). To join our mailing list, please email:

The University of Warwick will also host a pre-conference workshop on Gesture in Language Development on Sunday 19th July, 2015.

We are pleased to announce that the speakers will be:

Olga Capirci, CNR Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, Rome, Italy
Susan Goldin-Meadow, University of Chicago, USA
Elizabeth Kirk, University of York, UK
Danielle Matthews, University of Sheffield, UK
Katherine Mumford, University of Reading, UK
Asli Ozyurek, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, The Netherlands

The workshop will include a poster session for which submissions will be invited shortly. Please see for further information.

International Conference on Sign Language Acquisition (ICSLA2015)


Anne Baker, University of Amsterdam

1–3 July 2015, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Second announcement and call for submissions

After a successful first meeting in Lisbon in May 2013 it was decided to make this conference a regular event. The next meeting of the International Conference on Sign Language Acquisition (ICSLA2015) will therefore be held in Amsterdam on July 1st to July 3rd, 2015, three full days of presentations. The conference languages will be English and International Sign.

Keynote speakers are prof. Gladys Tang (Chinese University of Hong Kong), dr. Robin Thomson (University of Birmingham and prof. Paula Fikkert (Radboud University Nijmegen).

The meeting will cover all linguistic aspects of first and second sign language acquisition and include bilingual/bimodal acquisition, atypical populations, sociolinguistic aspects including emergence, diagnostic instruments, methodology and archiving, processing, and literacy in a sign language. There will be both signed or spoken plenary presentations as well as poster sessions. There will be no parallel sessions. Poster sessions form an important part of the conference and provide an opportunity to show and share data also via laptops. On Friday afternoon the focus will be on SL1 and SL2 acquisition in relation to education, with posters, activities and exchange of ideas between practitioners and researchers.

Those interested in giving a presentation are invited to go to the website where they will find instructions for submitting a proposal and further information about the conference. All proposals will be internationally reviewed.

The deadline for submissions is 23.59 CET, October 1st, 2014. Details of acceptance will be made known by the end of December 2014.

Workshop on Infant Language Development

Iris-Corinna Schwarz, Stockholm University (Organising Committee Chair)

The second edition of the Workshop on Infant Language Development (WILD) takes place June 10-12 2015 in Stockholm. WILD 2015 carries on the tradition of the very successful WILD 2013, held in San Sebastian, Spain, and offers a forum for vibrant discussions between researchers working on different aspects of infant language development. The conference is planned to be held biannually in Europe.

Confirmed keynote speakers for WILD 2015 are so far:

Prof Anne Fernald, Stanford University
Prof Paula Fikkert, Radboud University Nijmegen
Dr Christine Kitamura, University of Western Sydney
Dr Linda Polka, McGill University

Conference location is the baroque palace “Piperska Muren”, situated in a picturesque park in the heart of Stockholm opposite the Court House, only a short stroll away from the City Hall where the Nobel Prize is awarded each year. The conference hotel “Amaranten” is adjacent to the conference site.

Call for contributions will open in September and close in December. The conference webpage will be up and running shortly, we apologize for the wait.

We are looking forward to welcoming infant language development researchers from all across the globe to Stockholm, the Capital of Scandinavia.

New Book on Language in Interaction in Honour of Eve Clark

Inbal Arnon, Hebrew University

It is my great pleasure to announce the publication of a new book on Language in Interaction in honour of Eve. V. Clark. The book was presented to Prof. Clark at IASCL - and was followed by a symposium celebrating her work, and bringing together current research and open questions on the important topic of the role of interaction in language learning. The book focuses on the role of interaction in language acquisition, across ages, cultures, and environments, and has a collection of new research done by leading researchers in the field. We even have a website set up documenting the various events:


Forthcoming Conferences and Workshops

What: The 18th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue
When: 1 –3 Sep 2014
Where: Edinburgh, UK

What: The British Psychological Society Developmental Section Annual Conference 2014
When: 3- 5 Sep 2014
Where: Amsterdam, The Netherland

What: Τhe 14th Biennial Conference of the European Association for Research on Adolescence (EARA)
When: 3 – 6 Sep 2014
Where: Çesme/Izmir, Turkey

What: The 8th International Conference on Construction Grammar (ICCG-8)
When: 3-6 Sep 2014
Where: University of Osnabrueck, Germany

What: The 24th Annual Conference of the European Second Language Association (EUROSLA24)
When: 3-6 Sep 2014
Where: York, UK

What: AMLaP 2014
When: 3-6 Sep 2014
Where: Edinburgh, UK

What: The 4th International Conference Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice
When: 10-12 Sep 2014
Where: Geneva, Switzerland

What: PARLAY Conference: Postgraduate and Academic Researchers in Linguistics at York
When: 12 Sep 2014
Where: University of York, UK

What: Workshop on Theoretical East Asian Linguistics (TEAL-9)
When: 25-26 Sep 2014
Where: Nantes, France

What: Workshop on Specific Language Impairment
When: 1-3 Oct 2014
Where: Madrid, Spain

What: 2014 UIC Bilingualism Forum
When: 2-3 Oct 2014
Where: Chicago, USA

What: Individual Differences in Language Acquisition Meeting (DIAL-2014)
When: 9-10 Oct 2014
Where: Mexico

What: International Conference on Child Foreign Language Acquisition
When: 16-17 Oct 2014
Where: Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

What: Second Language Research Forum (SLRF)
When: 23-25 Oct 2014
Where: University of South Carolina, USA

What: International Workshop on Children’s Acquisition and Processing of Head-Final Languages
When: 5 Nov 2014
Where: Cambridge, MA, USA

What: Society for Language Development (SLD) Annual Symposium
When: 6 Nov 2014
Where: Boston, USA

What: The 6th International Conference on Formal Linguistics in Conjunction with International Conference on Language Acquisition, Language Disorder and Language Assessment
When: 8-9 Nov 2014
Where: Beijing, China

What: The 39th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD 39)
When: 7-9 Nov 2014
Where: Boston, USA

What: The 6th International Conference on Formal Linguistics in Conjunction with International Conference on Language Acquisition, Language Disorder and Language Assessment (ICFL-2014)
When: 8-9 Nov 2014
Where: Beijing, China

What: The 2014 ASHA Convention
When: 20-22 Nov 2014
Where: Orlando, USA

What: Variation in Language Acquisition
When: 3-5 Dec 2014
Where: Grenoble, France

What: The 2nd Asian and European Linguistic Conference
When: 5-6 Dec 2014
Where: Newcastle, UK

What: The 89th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America
When: 8-11 Jan 2015
Where: Portland, USA

Conference and Workshop Calls

What: ICFLTAL 2015: International Conference on Foreign Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics
When: 19 –20 Jan 2015
Where: London, UK
Submission Deadline: 30 Sep 2014

What: The 6th Bi-Annual Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition - North America (GALANA 6)
When: 19-21 Feb 2015
Where: University of Maryland, USA
Submission Deadline: 6 Oct 2014

What: Conceptualizing, Investigating, and Practicing Multilingualism and Multiculturalism
When: 27-28 Feb 2015
Where: Washington DC, USA
Submission Deadline: 17 Oct 2014

What: Big Data: New Opportunities and Challenges in Language Acquisition Research
When: 4 March 2015
Where: Leipzig, Germany
Submission Deadline: 31 Aug 2014

What: The 37th Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS 2015)
When: 4-6 March 2015
Where: Leipzig, Germany
Submission Deadline: 31 Aug 2014

What: Workshop on Universal Biases on Phonological Acquisition and Processing
When: 4-6 March 2015
Where: University of Leipzig, Germany
Submission Deadline: 31 Aug 2014

What: The 28th CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing
When: 19-21 March 2015
Where: University of California, USA
Details: (Email to: Elsi Kaiser)
Submission Deadline: to be announced

What: Workshop on Multilingual Language Acquisition, Processing and Use
When: 20-21 March 2015
Where: Tromso, Norway
Submission Deadline: 15 Nov 2014

What: International Conference on Bilingualism 2015
When: 23-25 March 2015
Where: Valletta, Malta
Submission Deadline: 31 Oct 2014

What: The 27th North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NACCL-27)
When: 3 –5 Apr 2015
Where: California, USA
Submission Deadline: 16 Nov 2014

What: The Asian Conference on Language Learning 2015 (ACLL 2015)
When: 30 Apr –3 May 2015
Where: New Jersey, USA
Submission Deadline: 1 Jan 2015

What: The 10th International Symposium on Bilingualism (ISB 10)
When: 20 –24 May 2015
Where: New Jersey, USA
Submission Deadline: 15 Sep 2014

What: Workshop on Infant Language Development (WILD 2015)
When: 10-12 Jun 2015
Where: Stockholm, Sweden
Submission Deadline: Dec 2014

What: International Conference on Sign Language Acquisition (ICSLA2015)
When: 1–3 July 2015
Where: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Submission Deadline: 1 Oct 2014

What: Bilingualism and Specific Language Impairment (Bi-SLI 2015)
When: 2–3 July 2015
Where: Tours, France
Details: (Email to: Laurie Tuller)
Submission Deadline: 1 Feb 2015

What: Experimental Pragmatics 2015 (XPRAG 2015)
When: 16–18 July 2015
Where: Chicago, IL, USA
Submission Deadline: 15 Jan 2015

What: Child Language Symposium 2015 and Gesture in Language Development Workshop
When: 19–21 July 2015
Where: University of Warwick, UK
Submission Deadline: to be announced in the Autumn

What: The 14th International Congress for the Study of Child Language (IASCL 2017)
When: 2nd or 3rd Week of July 2017
Where: Lyon, France
Submission Deadline: to be announced

Book Announcements

Editors: Inbal Arnon, Marisa Casillas, Chigusa Kurumada and Bruno Estigarribia
Title: Language in Interaction: Studies in Honour of Eve. V. Clark
Series Title: Trends in Language Acquisition Series
Publisher: John Benjamins
ISBN: 978-90-272-4401-7 (Hardback) 978-90-272-6925-6 (E-book)

Understanding how communicative goals impact and drive the learning process has been a long-standing issue in the field of language acquisition. Recent years have seen renewed interest in the social and pragmatic aspects of language learning: the way interaction shapes what and how children learn. In this volume, we bring together researchers working on interaction in different domains to present a cohesive overview of ongoing interactional research. The studies address the diversity of the environments children learn in; the role of para-linguistic information; the pragmatic forces driving language learning; and the way communicative pressures impact language use and change. Using observational, empirical and computational findings, this volume highlights the effect of interpersonal communication on what children hear and what they learn. This anthology is inspired by and dedicated to Prof. Eve V. Clark – a pioneer in all matters related to language acquisition – and a major force in establishing interaction and communication as crucial aspects of language learning.

More information:

Author: Colin Baker
Title: A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism (4th Edition)
Publisher: Multilingual Matters
ISBN: 978-17-830-9160-7 (hardback) 978-17-830-9159-1 (paperback) 978-17-830-9161-4 (e-book)

In this accessible guide to bilingualism in the family and the classroom, Colin Baker delivers a realistic picture of the joys and difficulties of raising bilingual children. This revised edition includes more information on bilingualism in the digital age, and incorporates the latest research in areas such as neonatal language experience, multilingualism and language mixing.

More information:

Editors: Patricia J. Brooks and Vera Kempe
Title: Encyclopedia of Language Development
Publisher: Sage Publications
ISBN: 978-14-522-5876-8

The progression from newborn to sophisticated language user in just a few short years is often described as wonderful and miraculous. What are the biological, cognitive, and social underpinnings of this miracle? What major language development milestones occur in infancy? What methodologies do researchers employ in studying this progression? Why do some become adept at multiple languages while others face a lifelong struggle with just one? What accounts for declines in language proficiency, and how might such declines be moderated?

Despite an abundance of textbooks, specialized monographs, and a couple of academic handbooks, there has been no encyclopedic reference work in this area--until now. The Encyclopedia of Language Development covers the breadth of theory and research on language development from birth through adulthood, as well as their practical application.


A thematic Reader’s Guide groups related articles by broad topic areas as one handy search feature on the e-Reference platform, which includes a comprehensive index of search terms.

More information:

Editors: Zhu Hua & Lixian Jin
Title: Development of Pragmatic and Discourse Skills in Chinese-Speaking Children
Series Title: Benjamins Current Topics 60
Publisher: John Benjamins
ISBN: 978-90-272-0279-6 (Hardback) 978-90-272-7026-9 (E-book)

For many years, studies of the development of pragmatic and discourse skills in young children have predominantly focused on English and other European languages, as with the field of child language development in general. This volume, originally published in Chinese Language and Discourse 3:1 (2012), brings together a team of researchers from China, the UK, USA, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. It explores the development of pragmatic and discourse skills among Chinese-speaking children by investigating the development of pragmatic features specific to the Chinese language and culture (i.e. the use of null forms and overt forms in self/other reference and time expressions), socio-cultural factors in child-directed speech and comprehension of semiotic resources in children’s early childhood. The studies reported in the volume draw upon data of different kinds including recorded spontaneous speech, corpus, questionnaires and experimental data. The findings not only highlight a number of developmental patterns which may be attributed to the Chinese language(s) and culture, but also contribute to the understanding of some key issues in the development of pragmatic and discourse skills irrespective of linguistic backgrounds.

More information:

Editor: Danielle Matthews
Title: Pragmatic Development in First Language Acquisition
Series Title: Trends in Language Acquisition Series
Publisher: John Benjamins
ISBN: 978-90-272-3480-3 (Hardback) 978-90-272-7044-3 (E-book) 978-90-272-3470-4 (Paperback)

Pragmatic development is increasingly seen as the foundation stone of language acquisition more generally. From very early on, children demonstrate a strong desire to understand and be understood that motivates the acquisition of lexicon and grammar and enables ever more effective communication. In the 35 years since the first edited volume on the topic, a flourishing literature has reported on the broad set of skills that can be called pragmatic. This volume aims to bring that literature together in a digestible format. It provides a series of succinct review chapters on 19 key topics ranging from preverbal skills right up to irony and argumentative discourse. Each chapter equips the reader with an overview of current theories, key empirical findings and questions for new research. This valuable resource will be of interest to scholars of psychology, linguistics, speech therapy, and cognitive science.

More information:

Thesis Announcements

Author: Gunhild Tomter Alstad
Title: Preschool as Second Language Learning Environment: A Case Study of Three Preschool Teachers’ Second Language Teaching Practices
Institution: Hedmark University College and University of Oslo

This explorative investigation is a multiple-case study of three Norwegian preschool teachers' second language (L2) teaching practices in terms of their management of language learning, their language use, and their knowledge, perceptions, and understanding of their second language teaching. The purpose of the investigation is to shed light on the preschool as a L2 learning environment by addressing two research questions. The first concerns the teachers’ preferences regarding language learning settings, while the second pertains to how multilingualism is expressed in their practices. The data consist of interviews and video-recorded observations of teacher-child interactions, and are analysed using Ellis' (2009) categorisation of types of language instruction, Cummins' (2000) framework for cognitive and contextual demands and García's (2009) framework for bilingual education.

The teachers facilitate language learning settings according to what they consider as cognitively, linguistically and socially appropriate for each child. The differences relate to both organisational and linguistic aspects. One of the teachers integrates L2 teaching throughout the day, mainly improvised and conducted in informal settings like play and mealtimes. This teacher models a wide range of different language use for the children. Despite not sharing the children’s L1, she uses all linguistic resources available in order to support the children's multilingual identities. Her practices reflect socio-cultural dimensions of L2 development. The other two practices may be linked to a view of L2 learning as the development of particular language skills. This type of L2 teaching takes place in planned sessions. One of the teachers draws explicit attention to L2 vocabulary through her translanguaging practices and by using teaching materials, whereas the other provides the children with enriched input and clearly separates L1 and L2 teaching. The findings are used to discuss conditions for L2 development in preschools.

Author: Christina Bergmann
Title: Computational Models of Early Language Acquisition and the Role of Different Voices
Institution: Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands

Infants learn words from the speakers in their environment. This thesis was inspired by the question how infants can discover words in the speech signal in the face of multiple voices. Detecting words is difficult, because the speech signal is continuous, unlabelled, and not divided into shorter units that coincide with sound- or word-boundaries. This problem is further complicated by the presence of multiple speakers who all sound differently. So far, research on the role of infants' input concentrated on the main caregiver, usually the mother. The assumption was that the main caregiver provides most of the information babies need to learn their native language. The role of other speakers was largely unknown.

In this thesis computational models simulated the language acquisition process, specifically word learning. Using computational models allowed for full control over the input and over all processes inside the simulated baby's mind. The models learned words from real speech, without intervening processes that transform the continuous signal into of single sounds or words. It turned out that these models can learn words and that they are even able to simulate babies' behaviour in experiments successfully. Across studies, overt, measurable behaviour was simulated along with the underlying abilities that infants might bring to the task of word learning.

The studies in this thesis revealed that hearing many speakers, both men and women, can help the word learning process. Hearing variable input from multiple speakers generally led to very successful word learning. Especially in more adverse conditions, such as hearing speech in the presence of background noise or encountering yet another unknown speaker, the models which learned from many speakers usually fared better. In conclusion, variability from different voices in the speech signal can be very valuable for the word learning process.

Permanent link:

Author: Christina Cassano
Title: An Examination of Growth in Vocabulary and Phonological Awareness in Early Childhood: An Individual Growth Model Approach
Institution: Boston University

The present study used individual growth modeling to examine the role of specific forms (i.e., receptive, expressive, and definitional vocabulary and grammatical skill) and levels of oral vocabulary skill (i.e., 25th, 50th, or 75th percentile) in phonological awareness growth during the preschool and kindergarten years. Sixty-one, typically-developing, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, all from middle- to upper-income families, participated in the year-long study. A comprehensive battery of standardized and non-standardized measures was used to assess phonological awareness, oral vocabulary (i.e., receptive, expressive, and definitional) and grammatical skill at baseline, and at 3, 6, and 9 months later.

Receptive vocabulary was the strongest predictor of growth in phonological awareness for the sample as a whole, followed by expressive vocabulary and grammatical skill, respectively. In the full model, definitional level vocabulary did not make a significant contribution to growth in phonological awareness. Receptive vocabulary accounted for additional phonological awareness growth in the 3-year-olds, but not in 4- and 5-year-olds, while expressive vocabulary accounted for additional phonological awareness growth in 4- and 5-year-olds, but not in 3-year-olds.

Post hoc analyses were conducted to explore the change in relations between phonological awareness and receptive and expressive vocabulary that was identified by the individual growth models. The post hoc results suggested that higher levels of expressive vocabulary (i.e., higher scores on the measures) are likely required to complete phonological awareness tasks with the most difficult operations and highest task demands, even if the linguistic unit involved is large.

The theory of lexical reorganization attributes the origin and protracted development of phonological awareness to increases in vocabulary size (Metsala & Walley, 1998). The present study's results suggest that increases in vocabulary size might be necessary, but not sufficient, as a foundation for phonological awareness development. Expressive level vocabulary might also be needed to hold words in memory to perform complex manipulations required in higher-level phonological awareness tasks.

The completed dissertation can be found at:

Author: Antónia Pimentel Estrela
Title: The Acquisition of Passives in European Portuguese
Institution: Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa

The aim of this study is to describe the acquisition of passives in European Portuguese, specifically regarding its comprehension. Many studies reveal that this construction is acquired late in different languages, both when production and comprehension are considered.

The apparent cross linguistic delay suggests children’s knowledge is somehow restricted, leading some authors to claim that the difficulties are due to syntactic maturation (Borer & Wexler 1987; Hirsch & Wexler 2007) or to the development of thematic role assignment (Fox & Grodzinsky 1998). Other studies value the importance of the input (Gordon & Chafetz 1990; Demuth et al. 2010), while others emphasize the pragmatic and discursive features assigned to the passive (Tomasello 2000; Marchman et al. 1991). Recently, some important studies point out that the acquisition of the passive construction is not delayed, arguing that if the felicity conditions are met, children will not have problems interpreting this structure, although other factors may be involved (O’Brien et al. 2006; Thatcher et al. 2008).

This study aims at addressing the lack of systematic data on the acquisition of passives in European Portuguese. In order to accomplish that, it presents the results of four pilot studies on the comprehension of the structure under analysis. The first study is designed to test comprehension of long and short passive with actional verbs; the second and third analyze the comprehension of passives with actional and non-actional verbs; and the fourth assesses whether children distinguish three types of passive and their different properties (eventive, resultative and stative passives).

First, the results show that four-year- old children can understand passives with actional verbs, revealing no difference between short and long passives. Secondly, passives with non-actional verbs are problematic for children of different age groups and even active sentences with non-actional verbs are difficult. Thirdly, the analysis of the results of the fourth experimental study reveals that, at five, children do not show significant differences in the judgments of grammaticality assigned to various types of passive, with a performance at the chance level, contrarily to the performance of six-year-old children. Grammaticality contrasts are not completely understood by children, but we can already notice a statistically significant development in the recognition of the contrast between eventive and stative passives; and resultative and stative passives.

The analysis of an acquisition corpus complete these results, showing that even before the age of two children produce stative passives, and before they are three years old they produce eventive and resultative passives.

The study conducted allows us to evaluate the different proposals in the literature, covering various aspects relevant to the acquisition of passive structure, a structure in which different factors are involved, justifying that the processing of various types of the passive construction occur gradually.

Author: Agnes Groba
Title: The Acquisition of Adjectives in Bilingual and Monolingual Development Approached from a Psycho- and Neuro- linguistic Perspective
Original Title in German: Der Erwerb von Adjektiven in der bilingualen und monolingualen Entwicklung aus psycho- und neurolinguistischer Perspektive
Institution: University of Erfurt

Adjectives as an expression of an entity's properties are known to be a rather difficult category for early word learning. As shown in an extensive literature review, three learning cues can support the challenging task of novel adjective learning: (i) word learning principles, in particular, the Mutual Exclusivity Constraint (MEC), (ii) pragmatic gestures, and (iii) the adjective's syntactic context. Adherence to these learning cues was investigated in 63 German-Spanish bilingual (mostly cases of Bilingual First Language Acquisition, BFLA) and 57 German monolingual (Monolingual First Language Acquisition, MFLA) children aged 3;6 and 5. A forced choice task was used to collect behavioral data and investigated children's novel word interpretations in three learning cue conditions (see above). For the 5-year-olds, simultaneous functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) and Event-Related-Potentials (ERP) were used to investigate the neuronal correlates of the learning process.

Children also took part in a screening task to test the comprehension of real adjectives. Results were the same for BFLA and MFLA children at both ages. The screening task was controlled for age of receptive acquisition as rated by 203 adults, morphological form and semantic category of the adjective items.

BFLA and MFLA children behaved similarly in the pragmatic and in the syntactic experimental conditions. However, they differed in their neurophysiological processing of the pragmatic (fNIRS) and syntactic (ERP) cues. In inferring the meaning of a novel property label five-year-old BFLA children were less likely to adhere to the MEC than MFLA children. Likewise, ERP and fNIRS data showed neurophysiological group differences in the MEC-condition.

Results are discussed in terms of a possible bilingual advantage in interpreting pragmatic gestures and in syntactic awareness. For monolingual children a stronger MEC-adherence is assumed. In addition, cross-linguistic effects are discussed, based on comparisons between German and Spanish for the BFLA children.

In conclusion, one central finding of this study is that bilingual and monolingual children differ in their adherence to diverse learning strategies supporting adjective acquisition, but that the output of the learning process, that is, adjective comprehension, is similar across both populations.

The dissertation can be downloaded through

Author: Theresia Piszczan
Title: Perception Training in English Teaching at the Primary Level and Orthographic Influences on Phonological Representation: Empirical Findings and Implications
Original Title in German: Perzeptionsschulung im Englischunterricht an der Grundschule und orthographische Einflüsse auf die phonologische Repräsentation - Empirische Ergebnisse und Überlegungen
Institution: University of Erfurt

This dissertation examined to what extent children's phonological perception of non-native contrasts can be improved through training and to what extent orthographic representations affect the auditory memory for novel words. 86 German-speaking 8-year-olds who hitherto had had no contact with English took part in two playful experiments that focused on English or English-like stimuli.

The non-native contrasts that were focused on were [æ-ε] and [v-w] (presented at the beginning of names of phantasy figures). These contrasts are notoriously difficult for German-speaking learners of English to pronounce correctly. Perceptual studies of adult German-speaking learners of English have shown these contrasts to be difficult for perception as well. This first study to examine German children's perception of these English contrasts showed that [æ-ε ] was easier to perceive than [v-w] and that with training the perception of the [æ-ε ] contrast was soon very much improved. The [v-w] contrast, however, remained difficult, in spite of training. Simultaneous presentation of the phantasy names containing and graphemes for the two contrasts did not have any effect on auditory perception.

The second experiment tested children's ability to auditorily recognize novel but phonotactically English words that had previously been presented (i) only auditorily, (ii) both auditorily and orthographically using Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs) that are possible in both German and English, and (iii) both auditorily and orthographically using GPCs that are possible in English but not in German. Children's novel word recognition was not differentially affected by any of these conditions. At the same time, children mostly performed at ceiling.

The dissertation discusses these findings in terms of its implications for the teaching of a new foreign language in primary schools (ubiquitous in most of Europe) and argues for an increased attention to early perceptual training so as to avoid later pronunciation errors. Though this study found no supporting or negative influence of the orthographic presentation of novel foreign language words on auditory perception or retention, it is argued that more focus should be given to auditory training in early foreign language teaching.

The dissertation can be downloaded through

Further Announcements

By Heike Behrens, Journal Editor

Guest Editors of the Special Issue: Johanne Paradis and Elma Blom

While age of acquisition effects have been researched extensively in adult second language acquisition, there is less research focused on examining age of acquisition effects in child language learners. Papers for the special issue would include studies of all aspects of language development in populations of children and youth whose onset of exposure to their first (L1) or second (L2) language was not at birth, for example, deaf children of hearing parents, internationally adopted children and child L2 learners. Relevant topics and questions that papers could address include the following:

(1) Specific ages of onset in relation to long-term outcomes: At what ages in infancy or childhood does delay in onset of exposure to a language impact long-term outcomes in that language? Are age effects gradual or is there a definable 'critical period'?

(2) The impacts of age effects on acquisition: How does delay in onset of exposure to an L1 or L2 impact developmental patterns/stages, rates and long-term outcomes in language acquisition? Does it impact one more than another?

(3) Age effects and different linguistic domains: Do age effects impact linguistic domains, e.g., phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, differentially?

(4) Difference between delayed L1 versus delayed L2: How does the nature and magnitude of age effects differ when there is delay in exposure to a child's L1 vs. a child's L2? In other words, how does delay in exposure to any linguistic input (e.g., deaf children of hearing parents) affect acquisition differently than delay in exposure to a particular target language (e.g., child L2 learners or internationally adopted children)?

(5) Age effects interacting with other developmental factors: How do other child-internal and environmental factors interact with age of onset in determining acquisition processes and outcomes? For example, individual differences in language learning aptitude, quantity and quality of exposure to the target language could potentially mitigate or diminish the impact of later age of onset to a language. In the case of child L2 learners, transfer of skills and linguistic structures from their L1 could interact with age of onset effects in L2 acquisition.

The deadline for submission is October 31, 2014. Papers should be a maximum of 10,000 words, shorter papers preferred.

Submissions should be made on Manuscript Central:

In your covering letter, please state that the manuscript is to be considered for this special issue. Instructions for contributors are available on Manuscript Central.

The Special Issue is expected to be published in 2016.

Wordbank: A CDI Data Aggregation Project
By Michael C. Frank, Stanford University

On behalf of the MacArthur-Bates CDI Board, I'm pleased to tell you about a new data-aggregation and data-sharing project that we call Wordbank. Wordbank is a free and open database containing the full, item-level responses for MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI), a parent-report instrument for measuring children's early vocabulary. The Wordbank site already exists, although its current functionality is extremely limited. Please feel free to explore at ! We hope that by pooling detailed word-learning data across labs, we can create a database of unprecedented size that will lead to new insights about the shape of vocabulary development in early childhood.

If you consider contributing your CDI form data to Wordbank, we will help you upload these data or even (funding permitting) help arrange and pay for you to ship your paper survey forms to us.

If you use CDI forms and would consider contributing data to this resource, please help us by filling out a very short form for potential contributors. Data from this form will be very useful in securing the funding necessary to expand Wordbank. In addition, if you know of others who might consider contributing but are not on these lists, I would be very grateful if you could let me know.

First Language Special Issue on First Language Acquisition in Indigenous Contexts
By Evan Kidd, Associate Journal Editor
Editors of the Special Issue: Barbara Kelly, Evan Kidd & Gillian Wigglesworth
Title: Indigenous children’s language: Acquisition, preservation and evolution of language in minority contexts

Over the last decade or so there has been a surge in interest in the acquisition of small Indigenous languages across the world. There are a few significant reasons for this growth. Firstly, indigenous languages are dying at an alarming rate, which means that now is often our last chance to study their acquisition. Secondly, there is a broad recognition among child language researchers that our theories of acquisition are skewed by the overrepresentation of data from large European languages (especially English), whereas many children across the world are acquiring typologically under-studied languages (e.g. polysynthetic languages), often in situations of rapid language shift.

Field studies, in contexts such as remote communities, or investigations of minority language users’ development in multilingual societies will be of interest. A range of disciplinary perspectives, theoretical positions, and methodological strategies is likely to be represented in the Special Issue.

Prospective authors are encouraged to email the editors to discuss potential contributions (;; Papers should be submitted through the First Language manuscript central site ( by 30 September 2014.

Papers should be not more than 8000 words in length, and conform to the First Language submission guidelines.

All papers will be submitted to the normal review process.

CHILDES Server Recorded Hit Number Two Million
By Brian MacWhinney, Carnegie Mellon University

Some time on the morning of 22 March 2014 the CHILDES server recorded hit number 2,000,000 since we started counting in 2003. It had reached one million in 2011, so the curve is definitely inflected, as is the course of child language research. Thanks to all of you for making this resource possible.

I think it will be most fun now to count new milestones in terms of Fibonacci numbers. So, the next milestones will be 3 million, 5 million, 8 million, and 13 million. It will be interesting to see when these happen.

The Importance of Being Cited
By Brian MacWhinney, Carnegie Mellon University

May I remind us regarding the importance of citing sources in conference presentations (and of course publications) that use data from the CHILDES database. For example, if one is presenting results based on, for example, the Miller and Leo corpora in the German segment of the database, it is not enough to simply cite CHILDES as the source. It is important to also cite the specific corpora and their contributors. In this case it would be Max Miller for the Simone corpus and Heike Behrens for the Leo corpus.

I realize that the time for presentations at conferences is short, but this type of acknowledgment takes only a few seconds and it is important to the contributors. Think in terms of Oscar Wilde and the Importance of Being Cited and maybe this will be easier to remember to do.

Information on CHILDES Longitudinal Corpora for English-Speaking Children
By Virginia Valian, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center

At our Language Acquisition Research Centre (LARC - which is to say), Stephanie Friedman, a student from Smith College who served as an intern at LARC – compiled a spreadsheet of child corpora. The compilation is intended to help investigators identify CHILDES corpora that contain longitudinal data for English-speaking children between the ages of 1;6 and 3;6 and comparable data for adult speakers.

The excel file was shared via email on the info-childes list on 23 July 2014. The first tab of the file contains information about the material in the spreadsheet. There are a total of 7 tables.

Please let me know if you spot errors in any of the information.

From the Editor

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

IASCL Donation Drive

The IASCL is a worldwide organization, 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.

To make a donation, please make your payment via Paypal, using the appropriate button at Once you reach the 'Thank you for your payment' page on the Paypal site, you will be offered the option of printing a receipt (useful perhaps for tax purposes). If you experience any difficulties making your payment, please contact the Treasurer.

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


If you attended the IASCL conference in Amsterdam 2014, you will remain a member of IASCL until the first day of the 2017 congress. 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 £55 for regular members and £30 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 (£55 for regular members; or £30 for students*) is for three years, and expires on the first day of the next triennial Congress, to be held in the summer of 2017 in Lyon, France. Members in countries with nonconvertible currencies or currency transfer restrictions or other economic difficulties should request a waiver of the membership fee. Additional contributions/donations for the support of colleagues and program in countries with currency and/or economic difficulties are welcomed.

To join IASCL, to renew your membership, or to make a donation please make your payment via Paypal, using the appropriate button at Once you reach the 'Thank you for your payment' page on the Paypal site, you will be offered the option of printing a receipt. From the 'Thank you' page, you should also use the button on that page to return to IASCL, where you can complete your full membership details. If you experience any difficulties making your payment or completing your registration details, please contact the Treasurer.

*Students are asked to send proof of their status to the treasurer of IASCL at the address below, or by scanning and emailing proof of status to the Treasurer. Proof of student status: a letter on headed paper signed by authorised personnel from the Faculty, or a copy of a currently valid dated and signed student registration card or equivalent.

Dr Anna Theakston
IASCL Treasurer
Coupland Building 1
School of Psychological Sciences
University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL