Deutsch als Zweitsprache - Theorie und Didaktik des Zweitspracherwerbs                                 


DGfS 2009, AG 3

We are very pleased to announce the Workshop Comprehension-Production Asymmetries in Child Language, to be held at the University of Osnabrück (Germany), March 3 to March 6, 2009, as a part of the Annual Meeting of the German Linguistics Society (DGfS).

AG3: Production-comprehension asymmetries in child language

Organisation: Angela Grimm, Anja Müller, Cornelia Hamann, & Esther Ruigendijk (


Wednesday, March 4, 2009
2.00 - 2. 10 pm Angela Grimm & Anja Müller:
2.10 - 3.00 pm Ira Noveck (Lyon):
Pragmatic development: An experimental approach
3.00 - 3.30 pm C. L. Cannizzaro (Groningen):
Comprehension Delay of Word Order in Preschoolers
3.30 - 4.00 pm Ken Drozd (Aarhus):
Quantifying kids: Old puzzles, new findings 
4.00 - 4.30 pm Coffee break
4.30 - 5.00 pm Tanja Heizmann (Amherst):
Exhaustivity in Questions and Clefts and the Quantifier Connection
5.00 - 5.30 pm Martin Haiden, Sandrine Ferré, Phillipe Prévost, Maureen Scheidnes & Laurie Tuller (Tours):
Production and comprehension of wh-questions in acquisition of French: comparing L2 children and L1 children with SLI
5.30 - 6.00 pm Oda Brandt & Barbara Höhle (Potsdam):
Does production of verbal inflection precede comprehension? Evidence from Eyetracking
6.00 - 6.30 pm Petra Schulz (Frankfurt am Main):
Asymmetries in the production and comprehension of sentential complements

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Special session: Same function, different forms: pronouns, clitics and binding theory
9.00 - 9.10 am Cornelia Hamann & Esther Ruigendijk (Oldenburg):
9.10 - 10.00 am Naama Friedmann (Tel Aviv):
The comprehension and production of relative clauses in acquisition and SLI: Symmetries and surprising asymmetries
10.00 - 10.30 am Petra Hendriks & Arina Banga (Groningen):
What’s the topic? The interpretation of pronouns by Dutch children and adults
10.30 - 11.00 am Susan Powers (Lyrix, inc.):
Contrastive Pronominal Subjects in Child English
11.00 - 11.30 am Coffee break
11.30 - 12.00 am Insa Gülzow (Hamburg):
Binding in pragmatic and anti-pragmatic contexts: German children’s comprehension of reciprocals and reflexives in typically other-directed and self-directed events 
12.00 - 12.30 am Sergio Baauw (Utrecht):
Principle B Delays as a processing problem: Evidence from task effects
12.30 - 1.00 pm Larisa Avram (Bucharest) & Martine Coene (Leiden):
Accusative object clitics are not all alike

Friday, March 6, 2009

11.30 – 12.00 am Lavanya Sankaran (London):
Production-comprehension asymmetry in child Tamil: the study of aspect markers
12.00 – 12.30 am Christina Bergmann, Markus Paulus & Paula Fikkert (Nijmegen):
A closer look at pronoun comprehension – comparing different methods
12.30 - 1.00 pm Charlotte Koster, Petra Hendriks, Jan Hoeks & E. Wubs (Groningen):
Comprehension versus Production of Subject Pronouns
1.00 - 1.30 pm Irena Botwinik (Tel Aviv):
What affects the comprehension/ production asymmetry in the acquisition of object relatives in Hebrew and Italian, and why: Empirical evidence and theoretical contribution
1.30 - 2.00 pm

Natalia Gagarina, Dagmar Bittner & Milena Kühnast (Berlin):
Production and comprehension of personal pronouns in German, Russian and Bulgarian child language

Main session “Production-comprehension asymmetries in child language”

chairs by Angela Grimm & Anja Müller

It is a widely held assumption that children develop receptive skills before productive ones. For example, 16 months-old children produce 45 words but understand approximately 180 words (Fenson et al., 1993 for English). Several recent studies, however, provide evidence that preschool children use structures in a target-like way without assigning them an adult-like interpretation (such as focus particles, anaphora, complementizers, or contrast accent). At first glance, these latter findings are surprising, because target-like production requires mastery of the relevant grammatical structure.Taken together, both sets of findings suggest that language is acquired within a circle where comprehension precedes production and production precedes comprehension. Moreover, these results call for a reconsideration of the notions „comprehension‟ and „production‟ in language acquisition research. In our workshop, we aim to (re)consider the comprehension-production asymmetries in child language from theoretical and methodological perspectives. We would focus on comprehension because it is central for both comprehension (e.g., true value judgements) and production tasks (e.g., sentence completion). Questions related to the topic of the workshop are for example:

  • Is there further evidence for or against a comprehension-production-asymmetry?
  • Which theoretical models can account for the empirical findings?
  • Could the earlier mastery of comprehension skills be an artefact of research methods?
  • How can „comprehension‟ and „production‟ be redefined to capture the observed symmetries?

We invite contributions investigating monolingual, bilingual, and impaired language development, and we explicitly welcome research comparing comprehension and production skills in the same subjects. As the workshop aims at bringing together re-searchers from experimental and theoretical linguistics, we particularly welcome contributions that build a bridge between empirical findings and linguistic theory.

Special session “Same function, different forms: pronouns, clitics and binding theory“

chairs by Cornelia Hamann & Esther Ruigendijk

20 years ago it was found that the interpretation of pronouns is problematic for youngchildren, an observation named the DPBE (Delay of Principle B Effect). Prominent explanations for this effect involved pragmatic or processing factors (Chien and Wexler 1990, Grodzinsky and Reinhart 1993). Later cross-linguistic differences emerged, namely that children from Romance languages understand simple sentences with clitic pronouns from early on, but show the DPBE in complex constructions such as ECM-clauses. Accounts for the ECM-effect (also found in Dutch or English) usually involve chain formation /reconstruction whereas the better performance of Romance children is attributed to the non-deictic or deficient nature of clitics.

To further complicate matters, it turned out that there is no DPBE in Greek or German even though there is a strong and a weak/clitic paradigm (Varlakosta 2000, Ruigendijk et al 2007), suggesting that the mere existence of clitics (or higher positions) in a language influences the DPBE. In addition, differences across populations and tasks have also emerged (Grodzinsky 2005, Ruigendijk et al. 2006). Influenced by the acquisition results, binding has not ceased to be of interest on the theoretical level, see work by Heim and Reinhart, but also more recently

Reuland and Everaert (2001), di Scullio and Aguiro-Bautista (2008), and others.

This workshop addresses researchers in linguistic theory and language acquisition/impairment focussing on new cross-linguistic results.It will provide a forum for the discussion of new theoretical approaches and how they relate to the newer findings in acquisition or impairment and the different factors influencing pronoun interpretation: pronoun type, sentence structure, population, and task.

For more information about the German Linguistics Society (DGfS)and the 31stmeeting in Osnabrück please check the DGfS-website.