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Psycholinguist to Discuss How Children Acquire Language

By Mara McGinnis

Release Date: March 24, 1998

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- How do we acquire language as children? How do children attach meaning to language?

Melissa Bowerman of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in The Netherlands will explore the subject of first-language acquisition during a lecture from 3:30-5 p.m. on April 9 in 121 Cooke Hall on the University at Buffalo North (Amherst) Campus.

The lecture, "Where do children's early word meanings come from?" is sponsored by the UB Center for Cognitive Science and is part of the center's Distinguished Speakers in Cognitive Science Series.

The talk, which will be free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the departments of Psychology, Linguistics and Communicative Disorders and Sciences; the English Language Institute, and the School of Information and Library Studies, all at UB.

Bowerman has researched and published widely on topics of first-language acquisition, ranging from syntax and morphology to word meaning and phonology.

Recurrent themes in her work include the relationship between conceptual development and language development; the use of cross-linguistic comparisons to disentangle what is universal, and possibly innate, from what is learned; the nature of children's early linguistic rules, and the potential of information about language acquisition to help decide among alternative theoretical approaches to language structure.

Bowerman's recent work focuses on the acquisition of argument structure alternations and on the classification of topological spatial relationships by languages and by language learners.

For more information about the lecture, contact Dawn Phillips at the Center for Cognitive Science at 645-3794 or via e-mail at .