Scenes form a thesis: performance vs competence

“In sum, there is no evidence that the development of function words [or language, for that matter) is best explained from a linear or discontinuous point of view. The non-linear fitting has implications for the study of language development. It does not mean that age averages are wrong.
However, one must be careful with respect to certain claims about development. Group
data do not yield a solid description of (individual) development. Only age dependent
development (i.e. strictly timed development) will benefit from such averages. The
second point to be made is that whatever the averages, in all cases the data are best
modelled by a non-linear fit.”

From: Going the distance:  A Non-Linear Approach To Change In Language Development. H.G. Ruhland. Groningen, 1998.

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