Fall 2005

Ling/Psyc 782: Research Methods in Child Language

1-3:30 Monday

3030 Dole

Instructor: Clifton Pye (pyersqr@ku.edu)

Office Hours W 9:30-10:15, F 1:00-2:00 or by appointment

This course will introduce students to methods for studying phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic change during language development. Methods include: diary interpretation, language sample analysis, probe elicitation tasks, and clinical assessment.

Extensive weekly reading assignments have been selected. All readings are on file in Dole. Students are expected to come prepared to class to discuss points of confusion and to assess the significance and implications of the reading assignments. One student will be appointed to lead each weekly discussion. The discussion leader should provide a brief overview of each reading, summarizing it's theoretical import. The discussion should focus on methodological issues; the discussion leader should provide a comparative review the set of readings, identifying points of agreement or disagreement, point out the methodological strengths and weaknesses of each reading, and summarize implications for future research. You may wish to provide some theoretical background, but our focus is on methodology including experimental design, measurement, analysis.

Course requirements: In addition to class participation, students are required to produce a review paper discussing at least two alternative methodological approaches to studying an empirical or theoretical issue in child language. The review paper should include a short (1 - 2 maximum) review of the issue and background literature, and two or more methodology sections, each discussing topics such as subject selection, materials/stimuli, tasks/procedures, data analysis/reduction/scoring, statistical procedures, and anticipated outcomes. The review paper should end with a section evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each methodology. For example, you might compare maternal interviews versus on-line diaries as ways to investigate the nature of children's first words. A suggested organization is: INTRO, METHOD 1 (subjects, materials/procedures, design, results (as planned analyses and anticipated outcomes) METHOD 2 (subjects, materials/procedures, design, results (as planned analyses and anticipated outcomes) COMPARISON (advantages/disadvantages of each method).


Dana McDaniel, Cecile McKee, & Helen Smith Cairns (eds), Methods for Assessing Children's Syntax (required)

David Ingram, First Language Acquisition. (recommended)

Woods, A., Fletcher, P., & Hughes, A. (1986). Statistics in language studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (recommended)

Tentative Schedule:






Aug. 22


Read the KU web site on Human Subjects and pass their certification test


Sept. 5

Labor Day



Sept. 12

Chap. 3 & 4, MACS



Sept. 15

Chap. 1 & 2, MACS



Sept. 19

Chap. 6 & 9, MACS



Sept. 26

Chap. 7 & 8, MACS



Oct. 3

Chap. 5 & 10, MACS



Oct. 10

Chap. 12, MACS



Oct. 17

Chap. 13; pp. 197-219 & 341-384, Ingram



Oct. 24

Computer programs



Edwards, J. (1992). Computer methods in child language research: 4 principles for the archived data. Journal of Child Language, 19, 435-458.

McWhinney, B., & Snow, C. (1992). The wheat from the chaff: or 4 confusions regarding CHILDES. Journal of Child Language, 19, 459-472.

Edwards, J. (1993). Perfecting research techniques in an imperfect world: Response to McWhinney and Snow. Journal of Child Language, 20, 209-216.

Edwards, J. (1993). Survey of electronic corpora and related resources for language researchers. In J. A. Edwards & M. D. Lampert (Eds.). Talking data: Transcription and coding in discourse research. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Associates.


Oct. 31

The Comparative Method



Pye, C. 2003. The Genetic Matrix of Mayan Three-Place Predicates and Their Acquisition in K'iche' Mayan. Max Planck Institute.

de Leon, L., Pfeiler, B., Pye, C., Brown, P. & Mateo, P. 2005. Roots or Edges?: A Comparative Study of Mayan Children's Early Verb Forms. International Congress for the Study of Child Language, Berlin.

Pye, C. & Mateo, P. 2005. A Comparative Study of Ergative Acquisition in two Mayan Languages. Congreso de Idiomas Indigenas de Latinoamerica II, Austin, Texas.


Nov. 7

Measuring Language Development



Klee, T., & Fitzgerald, M. D. (1985). The relation between grammatical development and mean length of utterance in morphemes. Journal of Child Language, 12, 251-269.

Conant, S. (1987). The relationship between age and MLU in young children: A second look at Klee and Fitzgerald's data. Journal of Child Language, 14, 169-173.

From D. Crystal (1982). Profiling linguistic disability. London: Whurr Publications.
     Chapter 1: Linguistic profiles.
     Chapter 2: LARSP (Language assessment, remediation, and screening procedure).

Bornstein, M. H., Painter, K. M., & Park, J. (2002). Naturalistic language sampling in typically developing children. Journal of Child Language, 29, 687-699.

Ingram, D. (2002). The measurement of whole-word production. Journal of Child Language, 29, 713-733.

Bauer, D. J., Goldfield, B. A., & Reznick, J. S. (2002). Alternative approaches to analyzing individual differences in the rate of early vocabulary development. Journal of Child Language, 29, 313-335.

Rondal, J. A., Ghiotto, M., Bredart, S., & Bachelet, J. (1987). Age-relation, reliability, and grammatical validity of measures of utterance length. Journal of Child Language, 14, 433-446.

Scarborough, H. S. (1990). Index of Productive Syntax. Applied Psycholinguistics, 11, 1- 22.

Scarborough, H. S., Resorla, L., Tager-Flusberg, H., Fowler, A. E., & Sudhalter, V. (1991). The relation of utterance length to grammatical complexity in normal and language-disordered groups. Applied Psycholinguistics, 12, 23-45.

Schmuader, A. R. (1991). Argument structure frames: A lexical complexity metric? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 17, 49-65.

Surian, L. (1995). Children's ambiguous utterances: A re-examinaiton of processing limitations on production. Journal of Child Language, 22, 151-169.

Hickey, T. (1991). Mean length of utterance and the acquisition of Irish. Journal of Child Language, 18, 553-569.


Nov. 14

Research presentations



Nov. 21

Research presentations



Nov. 28

Research presentations



Dec. 5

Research presentations



Dec. 12

Research presentations