Research Articles

Documenting child language

  • Sonja Eisenbeiss


This paper argues for the integration of child language data into language documentation projects and shows the benefits that the documentation of child language can have for (i) acquisition researchers, (ii) descriptive, theoretical and historical linguists, and (iii) members of language maintenance or revitalisation projects. Moreover, it discusses which implications different user requirements have for data collection and provides pointers to resources, tools and stimuli. For each of these groups, I will present typical uses of acquisition data and discuss which implications the needs and requirements of this user group have for data collection and participant selection. Despite the aim of a very broad orientation, the focus of current language documentation projects is still typically on the documentation of the language used by adult native speakers, and child language data only plays a minor role – or none at all ... Moreover, even if language acquisition researchers and language documenters agree that it is useful to integrate child language data into larger language documentation projects, they will still need more information about the aims, methods and needs of the other discipline to make efficient use of the resources available.

Keywords: language documentation, child language, acquisition research, language maintenance, language revitalisation, data collection, resources, tools, participant selection

How to Cite:

Eisenbeiss, S., (2014) “Documenting child language”, Language Documentation and Description 3, 106-140. doi:

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Published on
31 Jul 2014
Peer Reviewed