Language Acquisition has been a much-disputed territory over which the conflicting claims of cognitive scientists, psychologists and linguists have long been fought. While for years each discipline has kept within its own theoretical frameworks, a fruitful recent development has been the increase in cross-disciplinary fertilisation of ideas between researchers of different orientations. It is in this spirit of collaboration that the GALA conferences on Language Acquisition have taken off. The aim of GALA '97 was to further promote cross-fertilisation across the different disciplines. The conference was an overwhelming success and this volume reflects both the eminence of the invited speakers and the richness of current debate. Presenting current cutting-edge research, the book fully illustrates the fruitfulness of the convergence of endeavours between researchers of different orientations. Containing a valuable introductory chapter from the editors that sets out the theoretical differences and standpoints on fundamental questions in language acquisition, the book presents eight papers based on the plenary lectures given at the conference.With contributions from major figures in the field, the book addresses the full range of core issues in Language Acquisition from the different viewpoints (lexical-semantic theory, generative grammar, optimality theory, experimental speech perception, computational modelling).
Introduction: trends and convergences in language acquisition research (A. Sorace et al.). Very early parameter setting and the unique checking constraint: a new explanation of the optional infinitive stage (K. Wexler). Aspects of root infinitives (T. Hoekstra, N. Hyams). Genitive subjects in child English (A. Radford). The second language instinct (B.D. Schwartz). Learning optimality-theoretic grammars (B.B. Tesar, P. Smolensky). Constraining the search for structure in the input (P.W. Jusczyk). Words and rules (S. Pinker). Author index. Subject index.