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LANGACROSS (2007-2010) Utterance structure in context : language and cognition during acquisition in a cross-linguistic perspective

Projet de l’ANR, (2007-2010)
Responsable France : Maya Hickmann (UMR 7023, CNRS & Paris 8)
Responsable Allemagne : Christine Dimroth (Max-Planck Institut für Psycholinguistik)


Language acquisition is an intrinsic aspect of human behaviour, both a necessary stepping stone in ontogenetic development and a vital task in our multilingual world. Despite an increasing amount of research, fundamental questions concerning the mechanisms of the acquisition process are still sharply debated. Different frameworks strongly diverge in many respects. To name but three : is the language faculty domain-specific and innate or the product of a gradual development through general learning processes ? What is the impact of typological constraints on the acquisition process ? How important is the role of language use in context for learners’ developing linguistic competence ?

Our aim is to address some of these questions in three language domains that have been at the centre of most debates, examining in each case both the sentence and discourse levels of linguistic organization : 1) information structure, 2) time, and 3) space. Particular attention is paid to the role of universal cognitive vs. language-specific, and structural vs. functional determinants of acquisition. This aim requires a two-fold comparative perspective – of learner type ; of linguistic sub-systems. We compare the developmental progressions followed by two types of learners : children - whose cognitive system is developing during first language acquisition - and adults - who are cognitively developed when acquiring a second language. Cross-linguistic comparisons examine the acquisition of a number of linguistic systems that display relevant contrasts in relation to particular claims. Participants belong to four European teams, two in France (UMR 7023 & 8163) and two in Germany (MPI for Psycholinguistics, Heidelberg), which are among the most productive in this field. They have all collected large and varied cross-linguistic data bases concerning first or second language acquisition and intend further to systematise and extend them. In addition to advancing our understanding of language acquisition, the project will provide significant findings for obvious social applications concerning language teaching and language disorders.



L’objectif de LANGACROSS était d’aborder trois questions fondamentales, au centre des débats dans les travaux antérieurs concernant l’acquisition des langues, à la lumière de la diversité considérable attestée entre les langues et dans différents domaines. Par ailleurs, notre proposition initiale annonçait deux questions qui devaient émerger du projet et constituer de nouvelles directions de recherche futures : • Question 1 : Quels principes d’organisation linguistique universels et spécifiques aux (...)

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Références : Andersen, R. & Shirai, Y. (1994). Discourse motivations for some cognitive acquisition principles. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 16, 133-156. Andorno, Cecilia (2005). Additive and Restrictive Particles in Italian as a Second Language. In H. Hendriks (ed.), The structure of learner varieties. Berlin : Mouton de Gruyter, 405-460 Bartning, I. (1997), "L’apprenant dit avancé et son acquisition d’une langue étrangère. Tour d’horizon et esquisse d’une caractérisation de (...)

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Objectifs et programme

1. Aims The project would provide a unique opportunity for the participating teams, building on previous collaborative work, to obtain a coherent, synthetic picture of the cognitive-linguistic interplay in the acquisition processes of different types of learner, put to the test of a wide range of languages. The teams have already created rich data bases, which will be added to selectively in order to test specific hypotheses across languages. Of particular interest from this point of view (...)

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Contexte scientifique

Scientific Context 1. The field of language acquisition Language acquisition is a major domain of study among the cognitive sciences. Research in this domain stems from different disciplines and scientific traditions, including philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and the neurosciences. Depending on the discipline, on the theoretical framework adopted, and on the particular issues at stake, this research has focused on different phenomena (morpho-syntax, semantics, pragmatics, phonology) (...)

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Coordinators France Maya Hickmann Laboratoire « Structures Formelles du Langage » (UMR 7023, CNRS & Paris 8) 2, rue de la Liberté, St Denis, France Germany Christine Dimroth Max-Planck Institut für Psycholinguistik, Nijmegen PB 310, 6500 AH Nijmegen, The Netherlands Other participants 1. French Team 1 : Laboratoire « Structures Formelles du Langage » (UMR 7023 CNRS & Paris 8), 2, rue de la Liberté, St Denis, France Members : D. Bassano, S. Colonna, B. Copley, M. Lambert, K. (...)

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Descriptif complet du projet (pdf)

Vous pouvez consultez le descriptif complet du projet LANGACROSS.

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Université Paris 8