Fargo, N.D. – Erin Conwell, assistant professor of psychology at NDSU, is scheduled to present the March Science Café titled, “When getting it wrong means they’re getting right: What children’s errors tell us about their language skills” on Tuesday, March 13, at 7 p.m. in Stokers Basement, Hotel Donaldson.
Children learning to talk often start off fine but then suddenly begin saying things that aren’t quite right, Conwell said. They “holded” the kitten, “goed” to the store and “falled” the book. Parents may think these errors are cute, or possibly cause for concern, but language development researchers take them as evidence of a very sophisticated understanding of English. When children make such errors, they are testing the limits of their language and exploring the relationship between words, rules and meaning, Conwell said.
The presentation will examine the forms these errors take, what they tell us about language development, how scientists try to trick children into making them for research purposes and why trying to correct them probably isn’t going to work.