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Elizabeth Bates

Language Development

Elizabeth Bates

  • Elizabeth Bates was born in Wichita, Kansas on July 27, 1947 and died at the age of 57 on December 13, 2003.
  • She was one of the leading figures in the modern day study of child development, and was the first to stress the importance of pragmatic dimensions of language acquisition.
  • She was also one of the first to do the systematic cross linguistic acquisition and the systematic neurophysiologic acquisition research.
  • Bates always took a multiple perspective view of children’s acquisition of language.


Elizabeth Bates

The different perspectives she made contributions to are:

  • Pragmatics: She initiated the first modern studies on children’s use of different kinds of communication skills from gestures to politeness.
  • Cross linguistic Comparisons: Did modern studies on children’s language from their first words to complex grammar, drawing conclusions about the human capacity for language.
  • Lexical Development: She originated the idea for the McArthur Communicative Development Inventory (MCDI), which is now the most widely used instrument for measuring children’s vocabulary development.
  • Grammatical Development: One of the originators for the Competition Model and its application to children learning many different languages; in order to identify grammatical devices children use at different stages of development.
  • Individual Differences: One of the first to study individual differences in language acquisition.
  • Connectionism: Worked on applying the principles of connectionist modeling to problems of child language acquisition.
  • Neurology and Evolution: Studied children with various kinds of brain damage in order to apply the results to child language development
  • Processing: Looked at online language processing in adults and applied it to child language acquisition.