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Chapter 25 offers a survey of Jejueo (Cheju-ŏ), with a focus on two major issues. The first is the status of Jejueo and whether it deserves to be classified as a dialect of Korean, consistent with long-standing practice. Based on a test of its intelligibility to monolingual speakers of Korean, the chapter concludes that Jejueo is in fact a distinct language and deserves to be recognized as such. This finding leads to the question of how Jejueo differs in its phonology and morphosyntax from Korean. Drawing on the extensive treatment of this subject in the authors’ book, Jejueo: The Language of Korea’s Jeju Island (University of Hawaii Press, 2019), the chapter examines the salient features of its phonological patterns, its inventory of nominal particles, and its system of verbal inflection.
Research on working memory and language has followed two quite divergent paths. The first line of inquiry examines questions relating to the components and organization of working memory – whether there are specialized buffers, the nature of the link to long-term memory, and so on. For the most part, studies of this type have little to say about the workings of language per se – why it has the particular types of relative clauses or patterns of verbal agreement that it does, for example. These issues fall under the purview of a different line of research, which seeks to trace various fundamental properties of language to the cognitive processes involved in the storage and manipulation of information – working memory, broadly construed. The goal of the latter research program, which I will try to advance here, is to establish that general properties of working memory, however they are ultimately integrated into a theoretical model, can contribute to a deeper understanding of the human language faculty. I will focus here on three phenomena that help illustrate this point – a restriction on the interpretation of reflexive pronouns, a curious prohibition on phonological contraction in a type of wh question, and a baffling constraint commonly known as the ‘that-trace effect.’ A careful examination of their properties reveals a previously unsuspected finding: they are shaped by the need to minimize processing cost, a key factor in our understanding of working memory as well.
This chapter outlines an emergentist approach to understanding why human languages have the particular properties that they do and how those properties are acquired by children. Drawing on a variety of examples, it illustrates the role of two factors in shaping language and its acquisition: limitations on the resources available for processing utterances in real time, and the role of input in facilitating the acquisition of particular words and patterns. Both these factors fit well with a key claim of linguistic emergentism, which is that the human language faculty is shaped by forces – cognition, perception, memory, computation, and experience – that are not themselves linguistic in character. The emergentist approach thus provides an alternative to theories that attribute the unique human ability to learn and use language to an inborn Universal Grammar. The second line of inquiry pursued investigates the emergence of particular features of Korean, especially reflexive pronouns and relative clauses, in child and adult heritage learners. The developmental profile associated with these phenomena fits well with the emergentist approach to language, and helps confirm that heritage languages are learned in essentially the same way as languages that are acquired in a monolingual setting.
Pierce, Genesee, Delcenserie, and Morgan (2017) are right to suggest that working memory is a crucial part of the machinery underlying linguistic development. In this brief commentary, I will move beyond the emergence of phonological representations, on which Pierce et al.’s essay focuses, and consider ways in which working memory shapes the character and acquisition of grammatical phenomena, a topic that has been explored in various ways in the recent literature (e.g., Chater & Christiansen, 2010; Hawkins, 2014; O'Grady, 2005, 2015).
Priming reflects the reactivation of processing routines that map strings of words onto semantic representations (and vice versa) without the mediation of syntactic structure, including the “flat structure” that Branigan & Pickering (B&P) propose. Key evidence for this claim comes from the possibility of priming relations involving subject-verb sequences, which are not syntactic constituents.
This paper investigates English-speaking children's acquisition of raising constructions (e.g. John seems to Mary to be happy) and finds an asymmetric effect of NP type on their comprehension: an improvement in performance is observed when a lexical NP is raised across a pronominal experiencer (e.g. John seems to her to be happy) compared to when a pronoun is raised across a lexical NP experiencer (e.g. He seems to Mary to be happy). These results are consistent with a processing-based approach to intervention effects, which reduces children's difficulty with raising to a performance limitation, rather than a grammatical deficit.
I focus on two challenges that processing-based theories of language must confront: the need to explain why language has the particular properties that it does, and the need to explain why processing pressures are manifested in the particular way that they are. I discuss these matters with reference to two illustrative phenomena: proximity effects in word order and a constraint on contraction.
We report here on a series of elicited production experiments that investigate the production of indirect object and oblique relative clauses by monolingual child learners of English and Korean. Taken together, the results from the two languages point toward a pair of robust asymmetries: children manifest a preference for subject relative clauses over indirect object relative clauses, and for direct object relative clauses over oblique relative clauses. We consider various possible explanations for these preferences, of which the most promising seems to involve the requirement that the referent of the head noun be easily construed as what the relative clause is about.
Most explanatory work on first and second language learning assumes the primacy of the acquisition phenomenon itself, and a good deal of work has been devoted to the search for an ‘acquisition device’ that is specific to humans, and perhaps even to language. I will consider the possibility that this strategy is misguided and that language acquisition is a secondary effect of processing amelioration: attempts by the processor to facilitate its own functioning by developing routines of particular sorts.
It is widely recognized that the processor has a key role to play in creating and strengthening the mapping between form and meaning that is integral to language use. Adopting an emergentist approach to heritage language acquisition, the current study considers the extent to which the operation of the processor can contribute to an account of what is acquired, what is subsequently retained or lost, and what is never acquired in the first place. These questions are explored from two perspectives. First, morphosyntactic phenomena for which there is apparently substantial input are considered, with a focus on the relevance of salience, frequency, and transparency to the establishment of form-meaning mappings. Second, a phenomenon for which there appears to be relatively little input (i.e., scope) is examined with a view to understanding its fate in heritage language acquisition. In both cases, the emergentist perspective appears to offer promising insights into why heritage language learners succeed—and fail—in the way that they do.
In the preceding chapter, we focused on the form of sentences – whether the words are in the right order, whether any parts are missing, whether the right pronoun is used, and so on. But that's only half the story, at best. We also need to think about how sentences convey meaning.
We'll begin by looking at children's early one-word and two-word utterances to see what types of meanings they express and what they tell us about children's early linguistic abilities. We'll then move on to consider a series of more advanced constructions, each of which provides valuable clues about children's emerging abilities to understand and to communicate.
What a word can do
From the day they say their first word, children are amazingly good at finding ways to express themselves and at interpreting what adults say to them. Children's first utterances usually consist of just a single word, but it's often used to express a sentence-like meaning.
A child who points to her father and excitedly says “Dada, Dada!” is doing more than naming the person who just entered the room – she's trying to express the meaning “Here's Daddy.” And a child who looks at her mother's gloves and says “Mama” is not confusing the gloves with her mother – she's trying to say something like “Those are Mommy's gloves.”
Single-word utterances are often called holophrases (literally “whole sentences”).