This review examines crosslinguistic research that has increased our understanding of the acquisition process over the past 15 years. It begins by outlining different aspects of the study of first language acquisition, for example, infants’ preverbal attention to language and strategies in segmenting language input. A major section of the review stresses the importance of ethnographic studies because acquisition must be considered in relation to language socialization patterns in the particular culture in which the language is acquired. Another section examines crosslinguistic research and the impact of Slobin’s work, as well as factors that seem to influence the child’s mastery of formfunction mappings in spatial, temporal, and gender domains. Examples from diverse languages are used to illustrate that children use different clues, depending on the system being acquired. The final section of the review examines findings of a crosslinguistic research project designed to collect and analyze narrative data; only through an examination of a particular language’s discourse data can we study the full range of its structure’s functions. The review concludes by stressing the need to consider the interaction between linguistic factors and the cultural context of acquisition.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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