Language learners come in all sizes. Children learn one language; they
learn many. Older children and adults add languages. Some children learn
language against the odds, faced as they are by developmental difficulties
of many kinds. How do learners meet these different language acquisition
What role does the ability to read the minds of others play in the
development of syntax? Do children know they are learning words when they
do it? Are children more or less conservative than adults when they
understand words like 'some' and 'and'? Do we really know the impact of the
language we speak to children? Can we really talk about one language being
more dominant than another in a child's repertoire? How do cultural
patterns of language use impact on the development of language?
We may have moved beyond the conception of language development as nature
versus nurture, but we remain uncertain of the exact roles played by the
nature of the human animal and the nature of the language environment that
learners develop in. We are also by no means in agreement about the
important questions to ask and the theoretical frameworks within which to
ask or answer them!
This volume provides a snapshot of the field of language acquisition at the
beginning of the 21st Century. It represents the multiplicity of approaches
that characterize this energetic sub field of linguistics and provides
readers with a review of current topics and debates, as well as addressing
some of the connections between sub-fields and possible future directions
for research in first language, second language, bilingualism, and language
disorder in languages that are spoken, manual, and written.