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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).

’s Markedness Differential Hypothesis ( 1977 ) and Structural Conformity Hypothesis ( 1991 ), research on L2 parameter-resetting (e.g., Broselow & Finer, 1988 ; White, 1985 ), and Eckman’s Optimality Theory-motivated work (Eckman, 2004a ) were important early examples. Accessible surveys are available

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Multilingualism and Second Language Acquisition
Author: Henk Zeevat
An utterance is normally produced by a speaker in linear time and the hearer normally correctly identifies the speaker intention in linear time and incrementally. This is hard to understand in a standard competence grammar since languages are highly ambiguous and context-free parsing is not linear. Deterministic utterance generation from intention and n-best Bayesian interpretation, based on the production grammar and the prior probabilities that need to be assumed for other perception do much better. The proposed model uses symbolic grammar and derives symbolic semantic representations, but treats interpretation as just another form of perception. Removing interpretation from grammar is not only empirically motivated, but also makes linguistics a much more feasible enterprise.

The importance of Henk Zeevat's new monograph cannot be overstated. Its combination of breadth, formal rigor, and originality is unparalleled in work on the form-meaning interface in human language...Zeevat's is the first proposal which provides a computationally feasible integrated treatment of production and comprehension for pragmatics, semantics, syntax, and even phonology. I recommend it to anyone who combines interests in language, logic, and computation with a sense of adventure. David Beaver, University of Texas at Austin