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  1. Stephen Crain, How Children Avoid Kindergarten Paths.
    Many experimental investigations of human sentence processing have shown that listeners do not wait until they reach the end of a sentence before they begin to compute an interpretation. Rather, listeners incrementally make commitments to an interpretation as the linguistic input unfolds in real time. A consequence of this property of sentence comprehension is that it sometimes gives rise to so-called garden-path effects. In the presence of a temporary ambiguity, listeners may assign an interpretation that later turns out to be (...)
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  2. Stephen Crain, On Not Being Led Down the Kindergarten Path.
    Studies of adult sentence processing have established that the referential context in which sentences are presented plays an immediate role in their interpretation, such that referential features of the context mitigate, and even eliminate, so-called ‘garden-path’ effects. Perceivers experience garden path effects almost exclusively when they are attempting to parse locally ambiguous linguistic structures in the absence of context, or in infelicitous contexts. The finding that the referential context ordinarily obviates garden path effects is compelling evidence for the Referential Theory (...)
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  3. Stephen Crain & Rosalind Thornton, Navigating Negative Quantificational Space.
    This paper reports the findings from an interconnected set of experiments designed to assess children’s knowledge of the semantic interactions between negation and quantified NPs. Our main finding is that young children, unlike adults, systematically interpret these elements on the basis of their position in overt syntax. We argue that this observation can be derived from an interplay between fundamental properties of universal grammar and basic learning principles. We show that even when children’s semantic knowledge appears to differ from that (...)
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  4. Andrea Gualmini & Stephen Crain, Children's Asymmetrical Responses.
    In this paper, we discuss the findings of two case studies of children’s semantic competence using sentences that contain the universal quantifier every. Children’s understanding of universal quantification, or lack of it, is probably the most controversial topic in current research on young children’s semantic competence. Even among researchers who draw upon linguistic theory in their investigations of child language, there seems to be a general consensus that preschool and even school-age children make ‘errors’ in interpreting sentences with the universal (...)
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  5. Andrea Gualmini & Stephen Crain, Why No Child or Adult Must Learn De Morgan's Laws.
    Much recent research on child language has been inspired by linguistic principles uncovered by linguists working in the generative framework. Developmental psycholinguists have demonstrated young children’s mastery of a variety of linguistic principles; mostly syntactic principles, but also some semantic principles. The present paper contributes to research on the acquisition of semantics by presenting the findings of a new experiment designed to investigate young children’s knowledge of downward entailment, which is a basic semantic property of Universal Grammar. Section 2 describes (...)
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  6. Stephen Crain, Acquisition of Disjunction in Conditional Sentences.
    This study is concerned with the properties of the disjunction operator, or, and the acquisition of these properties by English-speaking children. Previous research has concluded that adult truth conditions for logical connectives are acquired relatively late in the course of language development. With particular reference to disjunction, the results of several studies have led to two claims. First, it has been argued that the full range of truth-conditions associated with inclusive-or is not initially available to children; instead, children are supposed (...)
     
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  7. Stephen Crain, At the Semantics/Pragmatics Interface in Child Language.
    This paper investigates scalar implicatures and downward entailment in child English. In previous experimental work we have shown that adults’ computation of scalar implicatures is sensitive to entailment relations. For instance, when the disjunction operator or occurs in positive contexts, an implicature of exclusivity arises. By contrast when the disjunction operator occurs within the scope of a downward entailing linguistic expression, no implicature of exclusivity is computed. Investigations on children’s computation of scalar implicatures in the same contexts have led to (...)
     
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  8. Stephen Crain, Children's Asymmetrical Responses.
    In this paper, we discuss the findings of two case studies of children’s semantic competence using sentences that contain the universal quantifier every. Children’s understanding of universal quantification, or lack of it, is probably the most controversial topic in current research on young children’s semantic competence. Even among researchers who draw upon linguistic theory in their investigations of child language, there seems to be a general consensus that preschool and even school-age children make ‘errors’ in interpreting sentences with the universal (...)
     
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  9. Stephen Crain, Children's Command of Negation.
    Poverty -of-stimulus arguments have taken new ground recently, augmented by experimental findings from th e study of child language. In this paper, we briefly review two variants of the poverty-of-stimulus argument that have received empirical support from studies of child language; then we examine a third argument of this kind in more detail. The case under discussion involves the structural notion of c-command as it pertains to children’s interpretation of disjunction in the scope of negation.
     
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  10. Stephen Crain, Children's Insensitivity to Contrastive Stress in Sentences with ONLY.
    This paper investigates the interaction of prosodic information and discourse principles in child language, taking sentences with the focus operator only as a case study. For adults, prosodic information alone can influence the truthconditional interpretation of (otherwise) ambiguous sentences. However, the findings of two experiments demonstrate that children are not able to use prosodic information alone to resolve certain ambiguities involving the focus operator only. The next section reviews the semantic properties of the focus operator only. Then we review the (...)
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  11. Stephen Crain, Everybody Knows.
    Much current research is devoted to children’s non-adult responses to sentences containing the universal quantifier every. In this chapter we review two alternative views: one that attributes children’s responses to nonadult grammars and one that focuses on extra-linguistic factors to explain children’s non-adult responses. We argue that the grammatical view faces several theoretical concerns, and, in light of research experimental findings, we demonstrate that it also suffers from limited explanatory power.
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  12. Stephen Crain, How Adults and Children Manage Stress in Ambiguous Contexts.
    This paper investigates the influence of contrastive stress in resolving potential semantic ambiguities. The sentences under investigation contain the focus operator only. Sentences with only have three main properties: (a) some sentential element is typically in focus, (b) the speaker presupposes that a set of alternatives to the focus element (the contrast set) has previously been introduced in the context; and (c) the speaker makes the assertion that the focus element has some unique property which other members of the reference (...)
     
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  13. Stephen Crain, If Everybody Knows, Then Every Child Knows.
    Here’s a recipe for one kind of argument from the poverty of the stimulus. To start, present an array of linguistic facts to be explained. Begin with a basic observation about form and/or meaning in some language (or, even better, an observation that crosses linguistic borders). Then show how similar forms and/or meanings crop up in other linguistic phenomena. Next, explain how one could account for the array of facts using domain-general learning mechanisms – such as distributional learning algorithms, ‘cut (...)
     
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  14. Stephen Crain, It's Not Wise to Fool with Mother Nature.
    Several recent papers propose that child and adult grammars differ in their underlying representations of universal quantification, e.g., “every” in English. These proposals attempt to explain children’s nonadult responses, in certain circumstances, in response to sentences that contain the universal quantifier. Blaming children’s nonadult behavior on their grammars is questionable, however, in view of the restrictiveness of the theory of Universal Grammar, which tightly constrains the hypothesis space children can navigate in the course of language development. The restrictiveness of the (...)
     
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  15. Stephen Crain, Rapid Relief of Stress in Dealing with Ambiguity.
    This study investigates the influence of contrastive stress on the on-line interpretation of ambiguous spoken sentences containing the focus operator only. The pattern of phonological stress was manipulated so as to associate different linguistic expressions with the focus operator only and to invoke different interpretations. Sentences with marked and neutral stress were evaluated relative to visually presented scenes, which depicted a situation consistent with alternative interpretations. Using a head-mounted eye-movement recording system, we measured the processing difficulty associated with phonological stress (...)
     
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  16. Stephen Crain, The Acquisition of Syntax.
    Do children acquire language rapidly, or slowly? From the vantage point of linguistic theory, all normal children could be expected to have full command of a rich and intricate system of linguistic principles in just a few years. Experimental studies of child language, however, paint a different picture of language development: It appears that language learning extends over many years, with children making numerous missteps along the way. Attempts have been made to reconcile theory and data, by looking for features (...)
     
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  17. Stephen Crain, The Acquisition of Disjunction: Evidence for a Grammatical View of Scalar Implicatures.
    This paper investigates young children's knowledge of scalar implicatures and downward entailment. In previous experimental work, we have shown that young children access the full range of truth-conditions associated with logical words in classical logic, including the disjunction operator, as well as the indefinite article. The present study extends this research in three ways, taking disjunction as a case study. Experiment 1 draws upon the observation that scalar implicatures (SIs) are cancelled (or reversed) in downward entailing (DE) linguistic environments, e.g., (...)
     
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  18. Stephen Crain, The Inclusion of Disjunction in Child Grammar: Evidence From Modal Verbs.
    This study is concerned with the acquisition of the disjunction operator, or, in English. Two mutually inconsistent claims have been made about the acquisition of disjunction. One claim is that the acquisition of the adult truth conditions for logical connectives, including disjunction, is a late and not fully universal, achievement. With particular reference to disjunction, the findings from several studies are interpreted as showing that only the truth conditions associated with exclusive-or are available to young children (e.g., Beilin and Lust (...)
     
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  19. Stephen Crain, Why No Child or Adult Must Learn de Morgan's Laws.
    Much recent research on child language has been inspired by linguistic principles uncovered by linguists working in the generative framework. Developmental psycholinguists have demonstrated young children’s mastery of a variety of linguistic principles; mostly syntactic principles, but also some semantic principles. The present paper contributes to research on the acquisition of semantics by presenting the findings of a new experiment designed to investigate young children’s knowledge of downward entailment, which is a basic semantic property of Universal Grammar. Section 2 describes (...)
     
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  20. Andrea Gualmini, Stephen Crain & Simona Maciukaite, Children's Insensitivity to Contrastive Stress in Sentences with ONLY.
    This paper investigates the interaction of prosodic information and discourse principles in child language, taking sentences with the focus operator only as a case study. For adults, prosodic information alone can influence the truthconditional interpretation of (otherwise) ambiguous sentences. However, the findings of two experiments demonstrate that children are not able to use prosodic information alone to resolve certain ambiguities involving the focus operator only. The next section reviews the semantic properties of the focus operator only. Then we review the (...)
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  21. Andrea Gualmini, Stephen Crain & Luisa Meroni, Everybody Knows.
    Much current research is devoted to children’s non-adult responses to sentences containing the universal quantifier every. In this chapter we review two alternative views: one that attributes children’s responses to nonadult grammars and one that focuses on extra-linguistic factors to explain children’s non-adult responses. We argue that the grammatical view faces several theoretical concerns, and, in light of research experimental findings, we demonstrate that it also suffers from limited explanatory power.
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  22. Max Coltheart & Stephen Crain (2012). Are There Universals of Reading? We Don't Believe So. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 1 (1):20-21.
    There are universals of language; but is it also true, as the target article claims, that there are universals of reading? We believe there are no such universals, and invite others to refute our claim by providing a list of some universals of reading. If there are no universals of reading, there cannot be a universal model of reading.
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  23. Ram Frost, Christina Behme, Madeleine El Beveridge, Thomas H. Bak, Jeffrey S. Bowers, Max Coltheart, Stephen Crain, Colin J. Davis, S. Hélène Deacon & Laurie Beth Feldman (2012). Towards a Universal Model of Reading. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35 (5):263.
    In the last decade, reading research has seen a paradigmatic shift. A new wave of computational models of orthographic processing that offer various forms of noisy position or context-sensitive coding have revolutionized the field of visual word recognition. The influx of such models stems mainly from consistent findings, coming mostly from European languages, regarding an apparent insensitivity of skilled readers to letter order. Underlying the current revolution is the theoretical assumption that the insensitivity of readers to letter order reflects the (...)
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  24. Stephen Crain & Drew Khlentzos (2010). The Logic Instinct. Mind and Language 25 (1):30-65.
    We present a series of arguments for logical nativism, focusing mainly on the meaning of disjunction in human languages. We propose that all human languages are logical in the sense that the meaning of linguistic expressions corresponding to disjunction (e.g. English or , Chinese huozhe, Japanese ka ) conform to the meaning of the logical operator in classical logic, inclusive- or . It is highly implausible, we argue, that children acquire the (logical) meaning of disjunction by observing how adults use (...)
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  25. 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.
    In the normal course of events, children manifest linguistic competence equivalent to that of adults in just a few years. Children can produce and understand novel sentences, they can judge that certain strings of words are true or false, and so on. Yet experience appears to dramatically underdetermine the com- petence children so rapidly achieve, even given optimistic assumptions about children’s nonlinguistic capacities to extract information and form generalizations on the basis of statistical regularities in the input. These considerations underlie (...)
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  26. Paul M. Pietroski & Stephen Crain (2005). Innate Ideas. In James A. McGilvray (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky. Cambridge. 164--181.
    Here's one way this chapter could go. After defining the terms 'innate' and 'idea', we say whether Chomsky thinks any ideas are innate -- and if so, which ones. Unfortunately, we don't have any theoretically interesting definitions to offer; and, so far as we know, Chomsky has never said that any ideas are innate. Since saying that would make for a very short chapter, we propose to do something else. Our aim is to locate Chomsky, as he locates himself, in (...)
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  27. Paul Pietroski & Stephen Crain (2005). 8 Innate Ideas. In James A. McGilvray (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky. Cambridge University Press. 164.
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  28. Stephen Crain & Paul Pietroski (2003). Innateness and Universal Grammar. In L. Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group.
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  29. Stephen Crain & Paul M. Pietroski (2002). Why Language Acquisition is a Snap. Linguistic Review.
    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 (...)
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  30. Stephen Crain & Paul M. Pietroski (2001). Nature, Nurture, and Universal Grammar. Linguistics And Philosophy 24 (2):139-186.
    In just a few years, children achieve a stable state of linguistic competence, making them effectively adults with respect to: understanding novel sentences, discerning relations of paraphrase and entailment, acceptability judgments, etc. One familiar account of the language acquisition process treats it as an induction problem of the sort that arises in any domain where the knowledge achieved is logically underdetermined by experience. This view highlights the cues that are available in the input to children, as well as childrens skills (...)
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  31. Stephen Crain (1991). Charting the Course of Language Development. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):639-650.
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  32. Stephen Crain (1991). Language Acquisition in the Absence of Experience. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):597-612.
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  33. Janet Fodor & Stephen Crain (1990). Phrase Structure Parameters. Linguistics and Philosophy 13 (6):619 - 659.
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  34. Stephen Crain & Janet Dean Fodor (1987). Sentence Matching and Overgeneration. Cognition 26 (2):123-169.
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  35. Henry Hamburger & Stephen Crain (1987). Plans and Semantics in Human Processing of Language. Cognitive Science 11 (1):101-136.
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  36. Donald Shankweiler & Stephen Crain (1986). Language Mechanisms and Reading Disorder: A Modular Approach. Cognition 24 (1-2):139-168.
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  37. Henry Hamburger & Stephen Crain (1984). Acquisition of Cognitive Compiling. Cognition 17 (2):85-136.
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