Linguistic Typology and First Language Acquisition

Melissa Bowerman

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199281251
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Linguistic Typology and First Language Acquisition

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  • Linguistics
  • Linguistic Typology
  • Language Acquisition



This article explores some of the ways in which linguistic typology and language-acquisition research have come together. It begins by discussing how cross-linguistically oriented language-acquisition research has come to share certain core attitudes and methodological preferences with the field of linguistic typology. There have been strong theoretical reasons to look for relationships between the structure of adult languages and children's language acquisition in both grammar and phonology. The article also provides the explanations for toddlers' semantic overextensions and underextensions of words and bound morphemes. The meanings children associate with temporal and spatial markers, and the role of syntactic–semantic linking in language acquisition are elaborated. Some additional intersections between semantic typology and first-language-acquisition research are explained, concentrating on issues of information packaging and lexicalization. The article then investigates two basic questions about first-language acquisition that intersect centrally with the concerns of linguistic typologists.

Keywords: linguistic typology; first-language acquisition; semantic typology; adult languages; children; grammar; phonology; toddlers

Article.  11489 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Linguistic Typology ; Language Acquisition

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