Language Acquisition Laboratory
Given that language is a sub-system of mind, research on how humans acquire language is a major aspect of the study of cognitive development, and a branch of cognitive science. The Language Acquisition Laboratory (LAL) was established in early 2006 to promote the theoretical study of language acquisition and empirical research on the acquisition of Chinese languages from a perspective informed by linguistic theory and related areas of cognitive science. It addresses issues on how toddlers and preschool children acquire their mother tongues and standard language in the multilingual and dialectal context, through naturalistic observation and experimental techniques. The laboratory is equipped with a Tobii X120 eyetracker, an infant observation room and a professional audio recording chamber, to study children’s early language.
Recent projects have been concerned with issues of lexical spurt, the onset of syntactic categories, word order and argument structure, classifiers and noun phrase structures, negation, referentiality, and logical quantifiers. The laboratory has constructed a longitudinal Chinese Early Language Acquisition (CELA) corpus recording the early language development of a number of Mandarin-speaking children in Beijing and Changsha, and of Cantonese-speaking children in Hong Kong.