Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #425
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

The Social and Cognitive Foundations of Language Acquisition

Monday, May 29, 2017
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 4
Area: VRB; Domain: Theory
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Judah B. Axe, Ph.D.
Chair: Judah B. Axe (Simmons College)
PAUL IBBOTSON (The Open University)
Paul Ibbotson studied geology for three years and then linguistics for a further year. After several more unwise and eccentric decisions he gained his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the Max Planck Child Study Centre at the University of Manchester, UK. He currently works at The Open University teaching and researching psychology.

Usage-based theories see language as a complex adaptive system: the interaction between history the processes that shape how languages are passed from one generation to the next and human psychology the set of unique social and cognitive capacities that allow generations to learn a language in the first place. I will argue that findings from language acquisition research, typology, and psycholinguistics are converging on the idea that language is fundamentally built out of use and generalizations over those usage events. Interestingly, none of the fundamental mechanisms of the usage-based approach are required to be a language-specific adaptation. Language shows creativity, categories, and recursion because people think creatively, categorically, and recursively. I will discuss a range of experimental, corpus and observational work showing that understanding the developmental of language acquisition can benefit from integrating the developmental of non-linguistic faculties, such as executive control, categorization and social-reasoning.

Target Audience:

Researchers and practitioners interested in theories of language

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, attendees will be able to: (1) describe some of the fundamental theoretical issues in language acquisition research; (2) exemplify the cognitive linguistics approach to studying language development; (3) evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this approach.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh