First Language Acquisition

The PIs: Dr. Dimitrios Skordos and Dr. Angeliki Athanasopoulou

At the Developmental Psycholinguistics Lab we study how children between the ages of 2 and 12 years acquire their first language and how that interacts with other aspects of their cognitive development. We use a variety of behavioral tasks including eye-tracking to test children’s language production, perception, and comprehension. The lab houses three research groups. 

Phonological Development Group

PI: Angeliki Athanasopoulou (

Our group studies how children develop the sound system of their language, focusing on prosodic patterns larger than the word. Our studies are typically cross-linguistic investigations of children’s production and perception abilities. Other main topics of research is the information pre-linguistic children use at the very beginning to break into their language (bootstrapping theories) as well as the role of a changing input in language acquisition.

Semantic and Pragmatic Development Group

PI: Dimitrios Skordos (

Our main research question is how children learn the meanings of words and phrases in their language and how they use their language-learning abilities to think about and understand context and the intentions of others. Projects in the group include the acquisition of quantifiers and logical connectives as well as the acquisition of spatial terms and motion event and how that interacts with memory and non-linguistic cognition.”

Language and Cognitive Development Working Group

We are an interdisciplinary group of linguists and psychologists working on first language acquisition and cognitive development. We meet monthly to discuss current theories, challenges, and debates on these topics. If you are interested in joining our group, please contact Angeliki Athanasopoulou (


Journal Articles


Skordos, D., Feiman, R., Bale, A., & Barner, D. (2020). Do children interpret ‘or’ conjunctively? Journal of Semantics.


Landau, B., Johannes, K., Skordos, D., & Papafragou, A. (2017). Containment and support: Core and complexity in spatial language learning. Cognitive science41, 748-779.


Skordos, D., & Papafragou, A. (2016). Children’s derivation of scalar implicatures: alternatives and relevance. Cognition, 153, 6-18.

Bunger, A., Skordos, D., Trueswell, J., & Papafragou, A. (2016). How adults and children encode causative events cross-linguistically: Implications for language production and attention. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 31, 1015-1037.


Skordos, D., & Papafragou, A. (2014). Lexical, syntactic, and semantic-geometric factors in the acquisition of motion predicatesDevelopmental Psychology, 50, 1985-1998.

Book Chapters


Skordos, D. & Barner, D. Language comprehension, inference, and alternatives. In C. Cummins & N. Katsos (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Experimental Semantics and Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Papafragou, A. & Skordos, D. Scalar Implicature. In J. Lidz, W. Snyder & J. Pater, (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Developmental Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.