Publication Date

2002

Major

French Studies

Language

English

Abstract

This thesis will explore the acquisition of a second language by normal adults and children, and first language acquisition by children with learning disabilities, more precisely specific language impairment (SLI). It will investigate the striking similarities and the differences between these language groups. Special attention will be paid to morphological and phonological processes that are particularly problematic for both language groups. Ultimately we will delve into the implications of these findings and how they pertain to the fundamental elasticity of our language capacities. The flexibility or rigidity of the parameter settings of the structure of language, for adults and children learning a second language and children with specific language impairment, have implications for further understanding of possible limitations for language acquisition. Special emphasis will be placed on the role of developmental factors that affect the learning process of these groups. Some of the social factors that may exacerbate these language deficits will be examined. These environmental factors have serious repercussions for young language learners and may permanently affect their performance ability. Determining the social factors and developmental limitations that shape language acquisition should foster progress in proper diagnosis and therapeutic or instructive measures for these populations. In order to understand the similarities and differences between these two language groups, we must first examine the structure of language. Once we have established the normal organization of language we can more properly address those groups whose linguistic functioning deviates from the norm. Subsequently we will be able to compare and contrast both language groups and evaluate their prognosis for language improvement.

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