Information Structure in First Language Acquisition

Instructor(s): Bhuvana Narasimhan and Aoju Chen

In acquiring a first language, children not only need to learn the grammar, meaning and sound patterns of the language but also how various linguistic devices are used to structure the flow of information during communication. In this introductory course, we will focus on how children learn to comprehend and encode information structural distinctions such as 'old-new', 'topic-focus', 'contrast' using linguistic devices such as intonation, referential form, and word order. We will explore these and related issues by examining corpora and experimental data from a range of languages. The course will include practicum sessions on transcribing and coding data using ELAN and conducting intonation analysis using Praat. Using a mix of lectures, discussions and hands-on practical work, the course will introduce students to a rapidly evolving body of research in developmental pragmatics, and provide students with knowledge and skills highly relevant for conducting interdisciplinary research.

Introduction to Linguistics