Children acquire a mature language system and sometimes this system differs from that of their parents. This is a significant part of language change and understanding acquisition is key to understanding this kind of change in people's internal grammars. We outline an approach to language acquisition that is based on children finding cues and microcues expressed in the input they are exposed to. This enables us to understand historical change in grammars: change in external language sometimes triggers a new internal grammar as cues come to be expressed differently. We bring together work on language variation, acquisition, and change, show how these three areas are mutually dependent, and how empirical work in one area may enrich understanding more generally, opening the way to new kinds of empirical work.
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