Keynote speaker: Thomas Hun-Tak Lee

BEAL Forum 3. Plenary Session 1

Prof. Thomas Lee graphicDate: Monday, 22 October 2018
Time: 9:30 – 10:50 a.m
Place: Mershon Center, Room 120
1501 Neil Avenue
The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio 43201

Professor Thomas Hun-Tak Lee
Tianjin Normal University, Chinese University of Hong Kong

“The Use of Child Language in Linguistic Argumentation: Some Methodological Considerations”

Abstract: Two types of linguistic evidence are generally used in linguistic argumentation: internal evidence and external evidence, the former including the distribution of linguistic forms and the syntactic/semantic properties of various representations, and the latter drawing data from child language, language change, language processing and language disorders. On one level, child language data can provide illustrations, explications and interpretations of a particular linguistic theory, as can be seen from Halliday’s child language study based on the functionalist framework, Jakobson’s structuralist theory of phonological development, and the various transformational analyses of early child syntax in generative grammar. On another level, child language can provide an empirical basis for linguistic analysis, confirming a particular theory or hypothesis, and in turn facilitate the construction of linguistic theory through the discovery of new regularities. One could think of the empirical confirmation of the structure dependence of transformations and early functional categories as successful examples of such uses of child language.

This talk reviews a number of classic studies to observe how child language data should be used in linguistic argumentation, with an aim to exploring methodological requirements. The interaction between child language evidence and linguistic argumentation is complex, and one cannot simply rely on the relative precedence or relative difficulty of particular forms as crucial evidence for a particular analysis. In using child language to confirm a linguistic analysis, a model of language acquisition and its initial state (Universal Grammar) would need to be presupposed before valid connections can be established between theory and evidence. The paper will critically assess the claim that child language supports the recent syntactic proposal that verbs are a subclass of nouns in Chinese, pointing out its inadequacies and its invalidity.

BEAL Forum logo - 250x250Bio: Professor Thomas Hun-tak Lee received his PhD in Linguistics from UCLA and has taught linguistics at City University of Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he also served as Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Arts and chairperson of the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages. Professor Lee is currently Professor of the Tianjin Global Experts Recruitment Program, Tianjin Normal University, and Research Professor of Chinese University of Hong Kong. Dr. Lee’s research has centered on the acquisition of syntactic and semantics, with special reference to the quantificational competence of Mandarin-speaking and Cantonese-speaking children.

Free and Open to the Public

2018 BEAL Forum Organizing Committee
Seojin Yang and Lindsey Stirek (graduate student co-chairs)
Mineharu Nakayama, Marjorie K.M. Chan, and Zhiguo Xie (faculty co-chairs)

Institute for Chinese Studies, Institute for Japanese Studies

East Asian Studies Center; Graduate Association of Chinese Linguistics (GACL)l Graduate Students of East Asian Languages and Literatures (GREALL); Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures; Department of Linguistics, and other OSU units.

This event is sponsored in part by a Council on Student Affairs (CSA) Strategic Programming Grant, a grant from Confucius Institute Headquarters, and U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant for The Ohio State University East Asian Studies Center.