Brass tacks in linguistic theory: Innate grammatical principles

In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York, US: Oxford University Press USA. pp. 1--175 (2005)
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Abstract

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 various (more specific) poverty of stimulus arguments for the innate specification of linguistic principles. But in our view, certain features of nativist arguments have not yet been fully appreciated. We focus here on three (related) kinds of poverty of stimulus argument, each of which has been supported by the findings of psycholinguistic investigations of child language

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Paul Pietroski
Rutgers - New Brunswick

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