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Arts and Humanities Inaugural Lectures: John Grinstead

"Interface Delay" with John Grinstead, professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Linguistics

Grinstead headshotPatterns of child language development suggest that anaphora is challenging for children; more so for children diagnosed with specific language impairment (SLI). Anaphora suffers a prolonged developmental trajectory in nominal syntax with the delay of adult-like use of definite noun phrases of all types. In the verbal domain, temporal anaphora is similarly delayed. Because of the many roles played in syntax by tense, we find a set of cascading effects across language. In children diagnosed with the genetically-rooted, heritable language disorder known as specific language impairment, we find this pattern of delayed development of anaphora repeated, but prolonged and more severe. Tense marking in particular can be used as a clinical marker of SLI, across a range of languages, including Spanish. In the domain of meaning, we find a different pattern of emergence, perhaps more related to the language-internal integration of semantics/pragmatics with other sub-domains of language, including the sound system. There is a notable effect of the development of non-linguistic, domain-general cognitive abilities, including inhibition, on children’s interpretations of an array of quantifier types. Elucidating the interactions among cognitive domains in language is at the center of the projects in our lab.

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