ERIC Number: ED249790
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Sep
Reference Count: 0
Constraints on Learning: Studies in the Acquisition of American Sign Language.
Newport, Elissa L.
In examining the issue of why children do so well at language learning despite limited skill and experience, two possible explanations are addressed: one suggests that children learn language well exactly because they are limited, and the other proposes that children are extremely adept at language learning, perhaps more so than adults. Research bearing on this issue in the acquisition of American Sign Language (ASL) verbs of motion and location is described, the structure of these ASL forms is briefly outlined, and other relevant research on language acquisition is reviewed. The research on ASL verbs of motion, which looks at three types of generalizations (holistic iconicity, holistic rote, and morphological analysis), suggests that only children make the most complex of these generalization types. The other research reviewed addresses the acquisition of ASL as a native language from native models, the early vs. late acquisition of ASL, and acquisition of ASL as a native language from late-learning models. It is suggested that the various research findings support the hypothesis that children are smart at language learning but also support the more commonly held view that children are limited to a certain extent, and that further elaboration of the theoretical possibilities this offers is warranted. (MSE)
Descriptors: Age Differences, American Sign Language, Child Language, Language Acquisition, Language Research, Learning Processes, Linguistic Theory, Morphology (Languages)
PRCLD, Department of Linguistics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305 ($12.00 for entire volume; individual papers not available).
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Stanford Univ., CA. Dept. of Linguistics.
Note: In: Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, Volume 23, p1-22 Sep 1984. This research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health and by the National Science Foundation.