Claire Corlett

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60-Second Science: Cynthia Fisher on Language and Children

60-Second Science: Cynthia Fisher on Language and Children


[TICKING CLOCK] I am Cindy Fisher. I am at the Psychology
Department at University of Illinois and I study language acquisition in children between
about one and five years old. We do a lot of projects on sentence interpretation. But one of the questions that interests me most
is how very young children begin to assign meaning to words and sentences; how they integrate what they know about
the world, their concepts of objects and events, with what they know about sentences, their
concepts of nouns and verbs, and how they are combined into sentences. And one of the questions that interests me most
is how it could be possible for simple but abstract aspects of the structure of
sentences, the syntax of sentences, how the nouns and verbs are combined, could begin
to affect how children interpret sentences — even before they have really learned that much
about how the grammar of their language works. How could the structure of sentences be
intrinsically meaningful to very young children; helping to push them in the direction of correct
interpretations and new learning about the grammar? [BUZZER SOUNDS]

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