text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
News
design element
News
News From the Field
For the News Media
Special Reports
Research Overviews
NSF-Wide Investments
Speeches & Lectures
NSF Current Newsletter
Multimedia Gallery
Search Multimedia
Image
Video
Audio
More
Multimedia in the News
NSF Executive Staff
News Archive
 

Email this pagePrint this page
Lecture by David W. Lightfoot -- "The Birth and Death of Languages"


Dr. David W. Lightfoot
Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
National Science Foundation
April 12, 2006

"The Birth and Death of Languages"

David W. Lightfoot discusses how and why languages live and die. Even as languages are dying in unprecedented numbers, new languages are constantly emerging as existing ones diverge into different forms. To understand this process, we need to understand how languages change and how they emerge in children. Lightfoot explains how languages come into being, arguing that children are the driving force. He explores how new systems arise, how they are acquired by children, and how adults and children play complementary roles in language change.

Lightfoot received a B.A. (Honors) in classics from the University of London, King's College, in 1966 and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Michigan in 1971. His honors include a Fulbright Scholarship, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, and an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship. In 2004, he was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He has published ten books and more than 100 articles, book chapters and reviews. He is general editor for the Generative Syntax series published by Blackwell and serves on the linguistics editorial board at Cambridge University Press.

Lightfoot has held regular professorial appointments at McGill University, and at the University of Maryland, where he was also the Associate Director of the Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences Program there. In 2001, he moved to Georgetown University as Dean of the Graduate School. In addition, he has held short-term appointments at universities in Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. In 2005, he became Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation, heading the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.

Credit: National Science Foundation

General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Videos credited to the National Science Foundation, an agency of the U.S. Government, may be distributed freely. However, some materials within the videos may be copyrighted. If you would like to use portions of NSF-produced programs in another product, please contact the Video Team in the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs at the National Science Foundation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

RealPlayer icon
This Video requires the free RealPlayer plug-in.

 



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page