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Paperback | $32.00 Short | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780262631907 | 408 pp. | 6 x 9 in | September 1998

Instructor Resources

Methods for Assessing Children's Syntax


The study of child language and, in particular, child syntax is a growing area of linguistic research, yet methodological issues often take a backseat to the findings and conclusions of specific studies in the field. This book is designed in part as a handbook to assist students and researchers in the choice and use of methods for investigating children's grammar. For example, a method (or combination of methods) can be chosen based on what is measured and who the target subject is. In addition to the selection of methods, there are also pointers for designing and conducting experimental studies and for evaluating research.

Methods for Assessing Children's Syntax combines the best features of approaches developed in experimental psychology and linguistics that ground the study of language within the study of human cognition. The first three parts focus on specific methods, divided according to the type of data collected: production, comprehension, and judgment. Chapters in the fourth part take up general methodological considerations that arise regardless of which method is used. All of the methods described can be modified to meet the requirements of a specific study.


"This book is an invaluable resource for students and researchers in the field of first language acquisition. All major methods of investigating children's linguisitc competence and performance are included, with chapters written by investigators who have pioneered and perfected the techniques. The book will be on every researcher's shelf."
Virginia Valian, Professor of Psychology, Hunter College; Ph. D. Program in Linguistics, CUNY Graduate Center

Methods for Assessing Children’s Syntax is the only book of its kind, a how-to manual on experimental approaches to child language framed by the insights and philosophy of linguistic theory. Clearly and concisely written by experts in the field, the book is an invaluable resource for researchers doing empirical work in language development or anyone interested in finding out how we come to know what children know about their language.”
Nina Hyams, Professor of Linguistics, University of California, Los Angeles

“This collection is an important contribution to the study of language acquisition. The chapters are written by some of the most prominent scholars in the field, and they provide an elegant demonstration of the exciting overlap between theoretical linguistics and experimental psychology. The editors have intended this as a comprehensive ‘how-to’ handbook for people who want to study children’s syntax, and they have succeeded admirably. Anyone who is interested in either doing their own research in language acquisition or in critically evaluating the research of others would benefit enormously from this collection.”
Paul Bloom, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Linguistics, and Research Social Scientist in Cognitive Science, University of Arizona