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The Handbook of Language Emergence

Brian MacWhinney (Editor), William O'Grady (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-118-30175-3
656 pages
March 2015, Wiley-Blackwell
The Handbook of Language Emergence (1118301757) cover image


This authoritative handbook explores the latest integrated theory for understanding human language, offering the most inclusive text yet published on the rapidly evolving emergentist paradigm.

  • Brings together an international team of contributors, including the most prominent advocates of linguistic emergentism
  • Focuses on the ways in which the learning, processing, and structure of language emerge from a competing set of cognitive, communicative, and biological constraints
  • Examines forces on widely divergent timescales, from instantaneous neurolinguistic processing to historical changes and language evolution
  • Addresses key theoretical, empirical, and methodological issues, making this handbook the most rigorous examination of emergentist linguistic theory ever
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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors vii

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction: Language Emergence 1
Brian MacWhinney

Part I Basic Language Structures 33

1 The Emergence of Phonological Representation 35
Patricia Donegan

2 Capturing Gradience, Continuous Change, and Quasi-Regularity in Sound, Word, Phrase, and Meaning 53
James L. McClelland

3 The Emergence of Language Comprehension 81
Maryellen C. MacDonald

4 Anaphora and the Case for Emergentism 100
William O’Grady

5 Morphological Emergence 123
Péter Rácz, Janet B. Pierrehumbert, Jennifer B. Hay, and Viktória Papp

6 Metaphor and Emergentism 147
Zoltán Kövecses

7 Usage-Based Language Learning 163
Nick C. Ellis, Matthew Brook O’Donnell, and Ute Römer

Part II Language Change and Typology 181

8 Emergence at the Cross-Linguistic Level: Attractor Dynamics in Language Change 183
Joan Bybee and Clay Beckner

9 The Diachronic Genesis of Synchronic Syntax 201
T. Givón

10 Typological Variation and Efficient Processing 215
John A. Hawkins

11 Word Meanings across Languages Support Efficient Communication 237
Terry Regier, Charles Kemp, and Paul Kay

Part III Interactional Structures 265

12 Linguistic Emergence on the Ground: A Variationist Paradigm 267
Shana Poplack and Rena Torres Cacoullos

13 The Emergence of Sociophonetic Structure 292
Paul Foulkes and Jennifer B. Hay

14 An Emergentist Approach to Grammar 314
Paul J. Hopper

15 Common Ground 328
Eve V. Clark

16 The Role of Culture in the Emergence of Language 354
Daniel L. Everett

Part IV Language Learning 377

17 Learnability 379
Alexander Clark

18 Perceptual Development and Statistical Learning 396
Erik Thiessen and Lucy Erickson

19 Language Emergence in Development: A Computational Perspective 415
Stewart M. McCauley, Padraic Monaghan, and Morten H. Christiansen

20 Perception and Production in Phonological Development 437
Marilyn Vihman

21 The Emergence of Gestures 458
Jordan Zlatev

22 A Constructivist Account of Child Language Acquisition 478
Ben Ambridge and Elena Lieven

23 Bilingualism as a Dynamic Process 511
Ping Li

24 Dynamic Systems and Language Development 537
Paul van Geert and Marjolijn Verspoor

Part V Language and the Brain 557

25 Models of Language Production in Aphasia 559
Gary S. Dell and Nathaniel D. Anderson

26 Formulaic Language in an Emergentist Framework 578
Diana Van Lancker Sidtis

27 Language Evolution: An Emergentist Perspective 600
Michael A. Arbib

Index 625

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Author Information

Brian MacWhinney is Professor of Psychology, Computational Linguistics, and Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University. He has published extensively over many decades, and developed the Competition Model of first- and second-language acquisition, processing, and disorders, which shows how language learning emerges from forces operating on lexically-based patterns across divergent timeframes. He is the author of The CHILDES project: Tools for Analyzing Talk, 3rd Edition (2000 and editor of Mechanisms of Language Acquisition (1987) and The Emergence of Language (1999).

William O’Grady is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hawaii. He has undertaken extensive research in syntax and language acquisition, focusing more recently on the importance of processing for an understanding of how language works and how it is acquired. He is the author of numerous volumes including Principles of Grammar and Learning (1987), Syntactic Development (1997), and How Children Learn Language (2005). His book, Syntactic Carpentry (2005), sets out his ideas on the centrality of the processor in language acquisition.

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"This is a must-read, greatest-hits volume for anyone serious about understanding what language is, where it comes from, and how it’s used." - Adele E. Goldberg, Princeton University

This Handbook does more than provide a timely review of recent research in language acquisition by many of the leaders in the field. Its papers are couched in a theoretical perspective -- the Emergentist Program -- that must be reckoned with and that has come of age.. An essential component in any researcher's language library.” - Roberta Michnick Golinkof, University of Delaware

“Emergentism has a long history in philosophy and natural science.  Now, in this landmark collection, virtually all aspects of language are carefully and insightfully examined by an impressive range of thinkers from all of the disciplines concerned with linguistic structures and their changes over time.”
 - Dan I. Slobin, University of California, Berkeley

"For anyone interested in language, how it emerged in our species many millennia ago, and how it emerges effortlessly in children every day, MacWhinney and O’Grady have prepared an intellectual banquet.  They succeeded in attracting a dream team to write each of the chapters, making up a volume that will surely be a standard reference for years to come." - William S-Y. Wang, Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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