This is a collection of 37 of the most important, enduring, and influential essays by one of the great linguists of this century, gathered from a wide range of journals and books spanning four decades.
The “language-communication-society” triangle defies traditional scientific approaches. Rather, it is a phenomenon that calls for an integration of complex, transdisciplinary perspectives, if we are to make any progress in understanding how it works. The highly diverse agents in play are not merely cognitive and/or cultural, but also emotional and behavioural in their specificity. Indeed, the effort may require building a theoretical and methodological body of knowledge that can effectively convey the characteristic properties of phenomena in human terms. New complexity approaches allow us to rethink our limited and mechanistic images of human societies and create more appropriate emo-cognitive dynamic and holistic models. We have to enter into dialogue with the complexity views coming out of other more ‘material’ sciences, but we also need to take steps in the linguistic and psycho-sociological fields towards creating perspectives and concepts better fitted to human characteristics. Our understanding of complexity is different – but not opposed – to the one that is more commonly found in texts written by people working in physics or computer science, for example. The goal of this book is to extend the knowledge of these other more ‘human’ or socially oriented perspectives on complexity, taking account of the language and communication singularities of human agents in society. Our understanding of complexity is different – but not opposed – to the one that is more commonly found in texts written by people working in physics or computer science, for example. The goal of this book is to extend the knowledge of these other more ‘human’ or socially oriented perspectives on complexity, taking account of the language and communication singularities of human agents in society.
This volume brings together a number of papers dealing with various aspects of the study of language acquisition and language learning. The intention is to overcome barriers imposed by restrictions in the accessibility of both publishing sources (journals, conference reports, working papers) as well as languages. Therefore, all papers are in English. Those originally written in German have been translated. The papers originated between 1970 and 1980. They derive from long-term investigations which began 1968 at the University of Freiburg and which were continued since 1969 at the University of Kiel. The essential theme is the nature of man's language learning system, i.e. the ability which allows human beings to learn, and to be taught, natural languages. This ability is unique to human beings; it is species specific; and very likely biologically endowed, i.e. innate. One of the major concerns throughout these papers is to show that learning a foreign language in the classroom via foreign language teaching is by no means totally different from mastering a language in natural situations. Foreign language teaching must be integrated into a comprehensive view of language learning which includes all types of language acquisition.
The 32nd annual Boston University Conference on Language Development was held November 2-4, 2007, in Boston, MA. The proceedings contain 51 of the papers presented at the conference, including the keynote paper by Ellen Bialystok and the plenary paper by William O'Grady.