David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Nativists inspired by Chomsky are apt to provide arguments with the following general form: languages exhibit interesting generalizations that are not suggested by casual (or even intensive) examination of what people actually say; correspondingly, adults (i.e., just about anyone above the age of four) know much more about language than they could plausibly have learned on the basis of their experience; so absent an alternative account of the relevant generalizations and speakers' (tacit) knowledge of them, one should conclude that there are substantive "universal" principles of human grammar and, as a result of human biology, children can only acquire languages that conform to these principles. According to Pullum and Scholz, linguists need not suppose that children are innately endowed with "specific contingent facts about natural languages." But Pullum and Scholz don't consider the kinds of facts that really impress nativists. Nor do they offer any plausible acquisition scenarios that would culminate in the acquisition of languages that exhibit the kinds of rich and interrelated generalizations that are exhibited by natural languages. As we stress, good poverty-of-stimulus arguments are based on specific principles - - confirmed by drawing on (negative and crosslinguistic) data unavailable to children -- that help explain a range of independently established linguistic phenomena. If subsequent psycholinguistic experiments show that very young children already know such principles, that strengthens the case for nativism; and if further investigation shows that children sometimes "try out" constructions that are unattested in the local language, but only if such constructions are attested in other human languages, then the case for nativism is made stronger still. We illustrate these points by considering an apparently disparate -- but upon closer inspection, interestingly related -- cluster of phenomena involving: negative polarity items, the interpretation of 'or', binding theory, and displays of Romance and Germanic constructions in child- English..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Stephen Crain, Andrea Gualmini & Paul M. Pietroski (2005). Brass Tacks in Linguistic Theory: Innate Grammatical Principles. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York. 1--175.
Stephen Grain, Andrea Gualmini & Paul Pietroski (2005). Brass Tacks in Linguistic Theory. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind. Oxford University Press. 1--175.
Stephen Crain & Drew Khlentzos (2010). The Logic Instinct. Mind and Language 25 (1):30-65.
Stephen Crain & Paul M. Pietroski (2001). Nature, Nurture, and Universal Grammar. Linguistics and Philosophy 24 (2):139-186.
Paul Pietrowski (2001). Nature, Nurture and Universal Grammar. Linguistics and Philosophy 24 (2):139 - 186.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads17 ( #103,143 of 1,101,880 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #91,837 of 1,101,880 )
How can I increase my downloads?