Workshop on Grammatical Development in Honor of Jürgen M. Meisel
March 12 - 14, 2009
University of Hamburg
-- Warburg Haus --
From March 12 through 14 2009 , the University of Hamburg will host an international conference in honor of Jürgen M. Meisel. The conference will bring together scholars from all over the world, including former students, colleagues, scientific companions and friends. The conference will focus on language acquisition and diachronic change, the two aspects of grammatical development which have always been the leitmotiv in Jürgen’s work.
In the first place, investigations of grammatical development aim at a better understanding of the human language faculty. In fact, the assumption of a universal grammar (UG) adopted in the framework of generative grammar makes strong predictions about what kind of cross-linguistic variation is possible and how it is restricted. These predictions are highly relevant for our understanding of the onset and course of language acquisition as well as for our understanding of the conditions of diachronic change and its limitations. In the best case, the predictions should be confirmed or disconfirmed on the basis of empirical data.
Jürgen Meisel has repeatedly stressed that the human language faculty does not only provide us with the means to learn one native language successfully, but also endows us with the capacity to acquire two or more native languages simultaneously (Meisel 1986, 1989). Although children are able to separate their grammatical systems from early on, the two languages of a bilingual child may interact during acquisition, even across modalities (signed vs. spoken language). The contributions of the conference focus on the acquisition of syntactic properties in monolingual and bilingual children and explore the interplay between syntax proper and other linguistic levels, such as the lexicon and pragmatics.
Second language (L2) acquisition differs in many respects from monolingual and bilingual first language acquisition. It is, however, still controversial, whether L2 learners have access to UG or not. In this context, a number of recent studies on early L2 acquisition have discussed the idea of maturation and the question which age the critical period should be associated with (Meisel 2007). Several papers of the workshop focus on different aspects of child L2 acquisition investigating the properties that distinguish child L2 from other types of language acquisition.
Given the fact that first language acquisition generally proceeds uniformly and successfully, the study of child and adult L2 acquisition has gained increasing importance in explaining language contact phenomena and diachronic change. This is particularly true with respect to the development of syntax. Several contributions of the workshop will focus on structural change, either in historical settings or in current language contact situations. These papers take into account language internal as well as external factors. They explore possible explanations for changes in the past, and formulate predictions for the development of contact phenomena or ongoing grammatical change.
- Meisel, J. M. (1986): ”Word order and case marking in early child language. Evidence from the simultaneous acquisition of two first languages: French and German”, Linguistics 24, 123-153.
- Meisel, J. M. (1989): “Early differentiation of languages in bilingual children”, In: Hyltenstam, K. & L. Obler (Ed.): Bilingualism Across the Lifespan: Aspects of Acquisition, Maturity, and Loss, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 13-40.
- Meisel J. M. (2007): Exploring the Limits of the LAD, Arbeiten zur Mehrsprachigkeit (AzM) 80, Universität Hamburg.
- Regular: 20 EUR
- Reduced fee students/unwaged: 10 EUR
- Martin Elsig
- Regina Koeppe
- Tanja Kupisch
- Esther Rinke (Chair)
- Dr. Esther Rinke