How to measure development?

The two major methods used in language acquisition research are experiments and the documentation of the natural development of children in longitudinal studies resulting in an audio-visual corpus. The first step in studying languages for which the acquisition process is unknown is, usually, to record natural data and build up a corpus from it. However, a key challenge faced by this approach is that the corpora are usually very small, involving only a few participants and a small set of context-specific samples. This small sample size is problematic if we want to make general statements about development and it requires sophisticated statistical analyses and elaborate sampling strategies.

Further, developmental variables and individual variation are features that need to be integrated into the statistical methods developed. Therefore, one of the major topics in our psycholinguistics research unit are methods that can accommodate acquisition data from typologically different languages.

Selected publications

2012 Stoll, S., Bickel, B. How to measure frequency? Different ways of counting ergatives in Chintang (Tibeto-Burman, Nepal) and their implications. Download (PDF, 141 KB)
2011 Stoll, S., B. Bickel, E. Lieven, G. Banjade, T. N. Bhatta, M. Gaenszle, N. P. Paudyal, J. Pettigrew, I. P. Rai, M. Rai, & N. K. Rai. Nouns and verbs in Chintang: children's usage and surrounding adult speech. Journal of Child Language.Download (PDF, 1489 KB)
2009 Gries, S. Th., Stoll, S. Finding developmental groups in acquisition data: variability-based neighbor clustering. Journal of Quantitative Linguistics, 16(3): 217-242.Download (PDF, 287 KB)
2009 Stoll, S., Gries, S. Th. An association strength approach to characterizing development in corpora. Journal of Child Language, 36: 1075-1090.Download (PDF, 348 KB)