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Annu Rev Psychol. 2001;52:369-96.

Psycholinguistics: a cross-language perspective.

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Center For Research in Language, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Cross-linguistic studies are essential to the identification of universal processes in language development, language use, and language breakdown. Comparative studies in all three areas are reviewed, demonstrating powerful differences across languages in the order in which specific structures are acquired by children, the sparing and impairment of those structures in aphasic patients, and the structures that normal adults rely upon most heavily in real-time word and sentence processing. It is proposed that these differences reflect a cost-benefit trade-off among universal mechanisms for learning and processing (perception, attention, motor planning, memory) that are critical for language, but are not unique to language.

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