Language in Atypical Circumstances - LL531

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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6 15 (7.5)


Prerequisite: LING5190 (LL519) – Syntax 1





During this course, students will focus on a core set of linguistic case studies, which will equip students with the ability to:
• Assess the extent to which linguistic capacities interact with psychological ones;
• Recognise the relevance of the distinction between developmental and acquired disorders;
• Critically analyse evidence for/against linguistic principles being operative in child grammars;
• Distinguish between language delay and language deviance with regard to developmental disorders;
• Understand the results of social, cognitive and linguistic tests against which subjects' capabilities are measured.

Main themes will be picked from a variety of topics each year, from the following selection: Levels of Representation; Interaction between 'modules'; British Sign Language; Vocabulary and Syntax in the Aphasias; Morpho-syntactic abilities in SLI, complex syntax in Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome and Autism, Linguistic savants; Pragmatic knowledge in these disorders; Bi-Lingualism.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
• Mini Project or Long Essay (3,000 words) – 80%
• Presentation (20 minutes) – 20%

Indicative reading

De Groot, Annette. (2011). Language and Cognition in Bilinguals and Multilinguals. London: Routledge
Fodor, Jerry (1998). There and Back Again: A Review of Annette Karmiloff-Smith's Beyond Modularity in Fodor, Jerry (1998) In Critical Condition: Polemical Essays on Cognitive Science & the Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Foster-Cohen, Susan. (2009). Language Acquisition Palgrave Advances in Linguistics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Guasti, Maria. (2012). Language Acquisition: The Growth of Grammar. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Hoff, Erica & Shatz, Maggie (2009). Blackwell Handbook of Language Development: Oxford: Blackwell.
Naigles, Letitia. (ed) (2017). Innovative Investigations of Language in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Language and the Human Lifespan Series. Washington, De Gruyter Mouton/American Psychological Association.
Smith, Neil and Tsimpli, Ianthi (1995). The Mind of a Savant: Language Learning and Modularity London: Blackwell.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Demonstrate their knowledge of current key debates within linguistics/language acquisition;
Consider how different levels of representation interact with each other;
Understand the difference between atypical language development and atypical language acquired once development is complete;
Assess the extent to which theoretical and empirical work on atypical linguistic development coincide;
Demonstrate the ability to analyse transcripts from data from a variety of subjects with particular language impairments, using these data to identify typical characteristics of these disorders;
Understand the results of social, cognitive and linguistic tests against which subjects' capabilities are measured (e.g. standardised vocabulary, verbal and non-verbal reasoning test; experimental tests designed to tap into particular aspects of linguistic knowledge).

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