Language acquisition is a very extensive area of linguistic research. Not only because acquisition itself takes several years in a human life before it is completed but also because it takes place on every linguistic level. This means that research in this area is very broad as well. Too broad, in fact, to be discussed fully in this e-book. Therefore, this section aims to point briefly to several topics; mainly those ones that are discussed in other sections, such as syntax, morphology and phonology. More theoretic background on language acquisition can be obtained in the introductory course Inleiding Taalontwikkeling. Recommended literature: Kindertaalverwerving: Een handboek voor het Nederlands
When we want to study children's language, conversation analysis is a much used method. The advantage of involving children in a conversation is that their utterances remain quite natural and spontaneous as opposed to experiments in laboratorial environments. When the conversation is taped, a transcription is made and remains available for intensive and comparative research.
The transcripts of the taped conversations follow the standards of CHAT i.e. Codes for the Human Analysis of Transcripts and are gathered within CHILDES (CHIld Language Database Exchange System). We won't go very deep into the details of transcription but we will see what information we can extract from the code.
The linguistic levels mentioned above will be discussed in the light of various techniques in conversation analysis. The first step is to get acquainted with a tool that was especially developed for LiOn. The tool shows some close similarites with CLAN - Computerized Language ANalysis. This is an elaborate program with lots of functions and numerous possibilities to adjust parameters and options as to meet the user's wishes. This is very convenient for those who want to perform a deep analysis, but for a beginner it may be quite overwhelming. Therefore, the LiOn tool contains only the most important techniques for the analysis, which makes it easy to use. Moreover, the interface is easier to use in an intuitive way, avoiding to much abstract commands.
The exercises will guide the reader step by step through the different possibilities of the search tool. And eventually, a few basic topics from language acquisition are dealt with.If you have worked yourself through the exercises it may be interesting to take a peak at the CHILDES page. There you can find a.o. CLAN and other tools, transciption manuals and a collections of conversation files of several languages.