Lehramt-Kolloquium: Semantics and Language Acquisition

Uni Konstanz, Sommersemester 2014

Course Details

Lecturer: Tatjana Scheffler
Seminar: Mondays, 15:15-16:45
G 203
Level: LA E alt


active participation
regular readings
presentation of 1 or 2 research papers & lead discussion


The seminar is an introduction to (first and second) language acquisition of semantics. It is meant as a preparation for the Lehramt (Englisch) students who want to take the Staatsexamen from Prof. Maribel Romero in semantics and/or language acquisition in the fall, but other students are welcome, too.

We will look at how babies (first language acquisition, FLA) and language learners (second language acquisition, SLA) acquire semantic concepts. This will hopefully also give us insights about how linguistic knowledge (i.e., knowledge about the meaning of language) is processed in the brain.

In order to address these issues, we will pick out certain sub-topics of semantics. After introducing the basic formal knowledge to understand the phenomenon in question, we will then read and discuss research papers on the FLA or SLA of the phenomenon.


Date Topic / Presenter
28.4. basics of semantic analysis (TS)
  Lexical Semantics
5.5. Intro to lexical semantics (TS)
12.5. Eve Clark, The lexicon in acquisition (TS)
19.5. Clark, chapter 4 (TS)
Markman (L. Biesinger)
26.5. Gleitman & Gleitman (I. Hobler)
2.6. Pylkkänen 2008 (TS)
9.6. Pfingstmontag
  Complex Sentences
16.6. Intro quantification (TS)
Musolino 2006 (N. Lindauer)
23.6. Noveck (L. Sautter)
  Theory of Mind
30.6. de Villiers (L. Grüner)
7.7. Dudley (D. Huber-Winter)
  Second Language Acquisition
14.7. Cook
21.7. Gabriele


Papers without online links can be requested from TS.

Lexical Semantics

Clark, Eve V. 1993. Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 in The lexicon in acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1-83.

Markman, E. 1994. Constraints children place on word meanings. In Bloom, ed., Language Acquisition. Core Readings. MIT Press. Pp. 154-173 [previous version]

Gleitman , L. and Gleitman, H. 1992. A picture is worth a thousand words –but that’s the problem. Current Directions in Psychological Science 1.

Scope / Quantification

Crain, S., et al. 1996. Quantification without Qualification, Language Acquisition 5.2.

Musolino, J. 2006. Structure and meaning in the acquisition of scope. In V. Van Geenhoven (ed.), Semantics in Acquisition, 141-166. Springer, the Netherlands.


Ionin, T, M. L. Zubizarreta and S. Bautista Maldonado. 2008. Sources of linguistic knowledge in the SLA of English articles, Lingua 118.4: 554-576. [preprint]

Scalar Implicature

Noveck, I. 2001. When children are more logical than adults: experimental investigations of scalar implicature, Cognition 78: 165-188. [preprint]

Papafragou, A. and Musolino, J. 2003. Scalar implicatures: experiments at the semantics– pragmatics interface, Cognition 86: 253-282. [preprint]

Language and Theory of Mind

Cook, V. et al. 2006. Do bilinguals have different concepts? The case of shape and material in Japanese L2 user of English, International journal of bilingualism 10: 137-152. (mass/count nouns)

Gabriele, A. 2009. Transfer and transition in the SLA of aspect, Studies in SLA 31.3: 371-402. (aspect/Wendler classes)

Schick, B., De Villiers, P., De Villiers, J. and Hoffmeister, R. 2007. Language and Theory of Mind: A Study of Deaf Children. Child Development, 78: 376–396. (verb complements)

Dudley, R., Orita, N., Hacquard, V. and Lidz, J. 2013. Three-year-olds’ understanding of know and think. Submitted for inclusion in: Schwarz, Florian (ed.) Under Contract. Experimental Perspectives on Presuppositions, edited volume for Springer’s Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics Series. (verb complements)

Focus Particles

Berger, F. and Höhle, B. 2012. Restrictions on addition: children’s interpretation of the focus particles auch ‘also’ and nur ‘only’ in German. Journal of Child Language, 38: 383–410.

Last modified: Mon Jun 2 10:40:25 CEST 2014