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Title: Explanations in the study of child language development
Author: Atkinson, Richard Martin
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1979
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This work examines the status of a number of proposals as explanations in one or other area of language development. A set of criteria is developed for evaluating such proposals based on the assumption that theories of language development should be relatable to some general view of human development. Chapter 1 presents and justifies the criteria arguing that an approach at this level of generality is needed and conspicuously absent in the recent literature on language development. It is claimed that a developmental explanation should rely on the awe principles as a non-developmental explanation of behaviour but should also involve additional constraints. Chapter 2 considers the currently most popular views on lexical development and concludes that each of them suffers from a lack of clearly formulated general principles. This leads to a good deal of vagueness and indeterminacy in theory construction and in argumentation. Chapter 3 concentrates on syntax and, in particular, on attempts to use transformational grammar in acquisition studies. Abuse of the formalism is demonstrated and, at the same time, a general lack of awareness of the need for explanation. Various attempts to understand language development in terms of cognitive development are examined in Chapter 4 which contains formulations of the possible relationships between the two domains and the conclusion that lack of sophistication has characterised most argumentation on this issue. Chapter 5 concerns phonological development and discusses the status of theories of 'constraints' while Chapter 6 covers recent work on the development of communicative skills with similar conclusions to those reached in Chapter 4. Brief conclusions are presented in Chapter 7 together with preliminary discussion of mechanisms in language development, a topic not seriously raised in the preceding chapters.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available