(De)Constructing sentences

Ewa Dabrowska

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Lexically specific units, i.e., formulaic frames (Where’s Daddy? What’s Mummy doing?) and frames with slots(e.g. Where’s NP? Do you want to VP?) are known to play a central role in language acquisition. Could such mechanisms also account for adult production? I argue that the types of representations and production mechanisms that constructivist language researchers have postulated for children can also explain the basic mode of adult language use, i.e. informal conversation. Viewing adult language in such terms not only captures the continuity between child and adult usage, but also helps to explain how speakers are able to produce and understand language as fast as they do: using preconstructed chunks saves processing effort. Arguably, adults also have more abstract linguistic representations. These, however, are acquired relatively late in acquisition, largely as a result of experience with written texts, and may not be acquired by all speakers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-15
JournalJournal of Foreign Languages
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


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