Rich Languages From Poor Inputs

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-02-07
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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This book addresses one of the most famous and controversial arguments in the study of language and mind, the Poverty of the Stimulus. Presented by Chomsky in 1968, the argument holds that children do not receive enough evidence to infer the existence of core aspects of language, such as the dependence of linguistic rules on hierarchical phrase structure. The argument strikes against empiricist accounts of language acquisition and supports the conclusion that knowledge of some aspects of grammar must be innate. In the first part ofRich Grammars from Poor Inputs, contributors consider the general issues around the POS argument, review the empirical data, and offer new and plausible explanations. This is followed by a discussion of the the processes of language acquisition, and observed 'gaps' between adult and child grammar, concentrating on the late spontaneous acquisition by children of some key syntactic principles, basically, though not exclusively, between the ages of 5 to 9. Part 3 widens the horizon beyond language acquisition in the narrow sense, examining the natural development of reading and writing and of the child's growing sensitivity for the fine arts.

Author Biography

Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini is Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Arizona and a member of the Department of Linguistics, the Cognitive Science Program and the Department of Psychology. In October 1975 he organized the encounter between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky and in 1980 edited the proceedings Language and Learning, now translated into 11 languages and the echoes of which still explicitly resonate in the present volume. He is the editor, with Juan Uriagereka and Pello Salaburu, of Of Minds and Language: A Dialogue with Noam Chomsky in the Basque Country (OUP) and author, with Jerry Fodor, of What Darwin Got Wrong.

Robert C. Berwick is Professor of Computer Science and Computational Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has published more than a half-dozen books on the nature of language, language learnability, and computation, starting from his 1982 dissertation, The Acquisition of Syntactic Knowledge to The Grammatical Basis of Linguistic Performance, Computational Complexity and Natural Language, and Principle-Based Parsing. Most recently, he has focused on the biology of language, particularly the evolution of language.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction, Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini and Robert C Berwick
Part 1 Poverty of the Stimulus and Modularity Revisited
2. Poverty of the Stimulus Stands: Why recent challenges fail, Robert C. Berwick, Noam Chomsky, and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini
3. Children's Acquisition of Syntax: Simple models are too simple, Xuan-Nga Cao Kam and Janet Dean Fodor
4. Poverty of the Stimulus: Willingness to be puzzled, Noam Chomsky
5. Revisiting Modularity: Using language as a window to the mind, Susan Curtiss
6. Every Child an Isolate: Nature's experiments in language learning, Lila Gleitman and Barbara Landau
Part 2: Discrepancies Between Child Grammar and Adult Grammar
7. Recent Findings About Language Acquisition, Jean-Remy Hochman and Jacques Mehler
8. Ways of Avoiding Intervention: Some thoughts on the development of object relatives, passive, and control, Adriana Belletti and Luigi Rizzi
9. Merging From the Temporal Input: On subject-object asymmetries and an ergative language, Itziar Laka
10. Tough-Movement Developmental Delay: Another effect of phasal computation, Ken Wexler
11. Assessing Child and Adult Grammar, Julie Anne Legate and Charles Yang
12. Three Aspects of the Relation Between Lexical and Syntactic Knowledge, Thomas G. Bever
Part 3: Broadening the Picture: Spelling andRreading
13. Children's Invented Spelling: What we have learned in forty years, Charles Read and Rebecca Treiman
14. How Insights into Child Language Changed the Development of Written Language, Stephanie Gottwald and Maryane Wolf
15. The Phonology of Invented Spelling, Wayne O'Neil
16. The Arts as Language: Invention, identity, and learning, Merryl Goldberg

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