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How far does a construction grammar approach to argument structure take us in understanding children's language development?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 June 1998

NANCY BUDWIG
Affiliation:
Clark University

Abstract

Tomasello's stimulating review of Goldberg's (1995) book, Constructions: a construction grammar approach to argument structure, raises several themes worthy of discussion. Tomasello suggests numerous reasons why functional and cognitive linguistic approaches in general, and Goldberg's approach in particular, are central to current work in child language. In my commentary I will summarize Tomasello's central claims about what he sees as significant about Goldberg's book, and I will raise the question of whether construction grammar – rather than any other cognitive or functional approach – is worth pursuing. While generally sympathetic to Goldberg's approach, I will discuss two issues that I think are worthy of further consideration in future research.

Tomasello highlights three very important reasons why he believes Goldberg's approach makes a significant contribution to child language research. First, he states that construction grammar provides a way of understanding language development as a whole, and not just particular aspects of language development, such as core grammar. Second, Tomasello characterizes Goldberg's approach as noteworthy because it provides a way of relating language development to other domains of human cognition. A third advantage, Tomasello claims, is that construction grammar allows for the view of language development as protracted (e.g. not instantaneous), something Tomasello suggests fits well with his own research findings (see Tomasello, 1992).

Type
DISCUSSION
Copyright
© 1998 Cambridge University Press

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