Phase Transitions in Language History

Friday, February 15, 2013
Room 304 (Hynes Convention Center)
David Lightfoot , Georgetown University, Washington, DC
Languages change in bursts, in a punctuated equilibrium.  Changes, sometimes minor, in what children hear trigger a new internal language system, subject to the general laws of internal language, which may entail a significantly different linguistic competence.  Matching changes in external language with the changes in internal systems illuminates the nature of language acquisition in young children, particularly the role of experience versus the role of the internal laws.