About this Research Topic
However, the study of how information structure is acquired is still fledgling, with uneven coverage across populations and languages. Similarly, the wide cross-linguistic variation in the use of syntactic, prosodic, and morphological means of its expression has been a major stumbling block in the development of a solid methodological foundation for experimental investigations. As things stand, the field is ripe for contributions from more varied approaches and drawing on linguistic data from under- represented languages and populations.
This special topic seeks to fill several important gaps in the information structure literature. The goal is to broaden the empirical database by reporting high-quality experimental studies of the acquisition of information structure (in L1, L2, or LN acquisition, as well as contexts of bi- and multilingualism). We especially seek contributions that will address some of the most consequential lacunae among existing studies. First, there is a dearth of investigations focusing on the acquisition of information structure in languages that mark information structure morphologically, such as Japanese or Korean, or various African languages. More broadly, many languages remain under-represented in previous work, and we seek to expand the reporting of less-studied languages. Second, we seek to expand the populations under study, since few experiments focus on the acquisition of information structure by children or other less-studied populations, including naturalistic L2 learners, heritage speakers, or older adults.
Finally, we seek work that expands the methodologies used, since psycholinguistic investigations that use time-sensitive measures, such as self-paced reading, eye- tracking, or event-related potentials (ERPs), remain rare in the field. In addition to this, we also welcome studies that attempt to examine the research subject from different methodological perspectives (triangulation). Addressing this methodological gap is important to better understand the integration of information structure in real-time and to develop a fuller picture of how information packaging is deployed in production and comprehension.
We invite original research articles reporting previously unpublished data focusing on the acquisition of information-structural categories by any population, including monolingual and bilingual L1 acquisition, L2/LN learners (instructed or naturalistic), heritage language acquisition, and other contexts of bi- and multilingualism. We view information structure as pertaining to discourse-constrained word orders, prosody, and morphological markings, including categories like topic, focus, and background, as well as linguistic structures that instantiate contrast, givenness, exhaustiveness, or other pragmatic notions whose use (or not) affects an utterance’s (in)felicity. We seek work within a broadly experimental paradigm, understood to include studies with some formal or quantitative measurements of behavioral, processing, or neurophysiological characteristics of language users.
We especially encourage submissions that address any of the three key gaps previously described. To wit, we encourage submissions that (a) focus on less-studied languages, especially those that mark information structure morphologically; (b) focus on less-studied populations, especially children or naturalistic learners; and/or (c) focus on less-used methods, especially using time-sensitive methodologies or triangulation.
Keywords: Information structure, acquisition, focus, topic, givenness, contrast
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