Following much work in linguistic theory, it is hypothesized that the language faculty has a modular structure and consists of two basic components, a lexicon of (structured) entries and a computational system of combinatorial operations to form larger linguistic expressions from lexical entries. This target article provides evidence for the dual nature of the language faculty by describing recent results of a multidisciplinary investigation of German inflection. We have examined: (1) its linguistic representation, focussing on noun plurals and verb inflection (...) (participles), (2) processes involved in the way adults produce and comprehend inflected words, (3) brain potentials generated during the processing of inflected words, and (4) the way children acquire and use inflection. It will be shown that the evidence from all these sources converges and supports the distinction between lexical entries and combinatorial operations. (shrink)
The following discussion aims to illuminate further the way in which morphologically complex words are represented in the mental lexicon. It is argued that the dual-mechanism model can accommodate the linguistic and psycholinguistic evidence currently available, not only on German inflection (as pointed out in the target article) but also on other languages (as presented in several commentaries). Associative single-mechanism models of inflection, on the other hand, provide only partial accounts.
Using connectionist modelling, Thomas & Karmiloff-Smith (T&K-S) claim that developmental disorders in children are characterised by atypical trajectories and an ultimate functional architecture that is fundamentally different from normal. We argue that there is no empirical evidence for these claims in any developmental disorder and that the available evidence provides support for Residual Normality in both developmental and acquired disorders. We also refute the claim that modular accounts cannot encompass developmental trajectories in children with developmental disorders.