How do children learn that the word "dog" refers not to all four-legged animals, and not just to Ralph, but to all members of a particular species? How do they learn the meanings of verbs like "think," adjectives like "good," and words for abstract entities such as "mortgage" and "story"? The acquisition of word meaning is one of the fundamental issues in the study of mind.
This wide-ranging collection of essays is inspired by the memory of the cognitive psychologist John Macnamara, whose influential contributions to language and concept acquisition have provided the basis for numerous research programs. The areas covered by the essays include the foundations of language and thought, congnitive and linguistic development, and mathematical approaches to cognition.
The study of the relationship between natural language and spatial cognition has the potential to yield answers to vexing questions about the nature of the mind, language, and culture. The fifteen original contributions in Language and Space bring together the major lines of research and the most important theoretical viewpoints in the areas of psychology, linguistics, anthropology, and neuroscience, providing a much needed synthesis across these diverse domains.
Language Acquisition offers, in one convenient reader, work by the most outstanding researchers in each field and is intended as a snapshot of the sort of theory and research taking place in language acquisition in the 1990s. All of the articles and chapters were chosen to reflect topics and debates of current interest, and all take an interdisciplinary approach to language development, relating the study of how a child comes to possess a language to issues within linguistics, computational theory, biology, social cognition, and comparative psychology.