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Dynamic Systems Theory on Language Acquisition - Dictionary of Arguments

Upton I 75
Language acquisition/Dynamic systems theory/Upton: The importance of shared activities for language development is supported by current research (e.g. Liebal et al., 2009)(1) and theorists from different schools now agree that social context plays an important role in language development. Dynamic systems theorists (e.g. Evans, 2006(2); Gershkoff-Stowe and Thelen, 2004)(3) would agree with Bruner’s proposition that features of the social environment are important for language development. (Cf. >Language acquisition/Bruner). They would also concur with the idea that development happens as a result of an interaction between this environment and the child’s innate predispositions. However, they would disagree with the idea that there is an innate language-specific mechanism.
Dynamic systems theory: according to this theory, language emerges from the same general processes as all other behaviours. In this way, language and cognitive development are linked rather than separate processes.



1. Liebal, K., Behne, T., Carpenter, M and Tomasello, M. (2009) Infants use shared experience to interpret pointing gestures.Developmental Science, 12(2): 264–71. Available online at http://email.eva.mpg.de/~tomas/pdf/LiebalEtal_SharedExperience_2009.pdf (accessed 12 March 2011).
2.Evans, J.L. (2006) The emergence of language: a dynamical systems account, in Hoff, E and Shatz, M (eds) Blackwell Handbook of Language Development. Wiley Online Library.
3. Gershkoff-Stowe, L. and Thelen, E. (2004) U-shaped changes in behaviour: a dynamic systems perspective. Journal of Cognition and Development, 5: 11–36.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Dynamic Systems Theory
Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011


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