52 found
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  1. Language Acquisition in the Absence of Experience.Stephen Crain - 1991 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):597-612.
    A fundamental goal of linguistic theory is to explain how natural languages are acquired. This paper describes some recent findings on how learners acquire syntactic knowledge for which there is little, if any, decisive evidence from the environment. The first section presents several general observations about language acquisition that linguistic theory has tried to explain and discusses the thesis that certain linguistic properties are innate because they appear universally and in the absence of corresponding experience. A third diagnostic for innateness, (...)
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  2.  47
    Children's Knowledge of Free Choice Inferences and Scalar Implicatures.Lyn Tieu, Jacopo Romoli, Peng Zhou & Stephen Crain - 2016 - Journal of Semantics 33 (2):269-298.
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  3. Nature, Nurture, and Universal Grammar.Stephen Crain & Paul M. Pietroski - 2001 - 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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  4.  58
    Towards a Universal Model of Reading.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 - 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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  5. The Logic Instinct.Stephen Crain & Drew Khlentzos - 2010 - 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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  6.  18
    Language Mechanisms and Reading Disorder: A Modular Approach.Donald Shankweiler & Stephen Crain - 1986 - Cognition 24 (1-2):139-168.
  7.  18
    Acquisition of Cognitive Compiling.Henry Hamburger & Stephen Crain - 1984 - Cognition 17 (2):85-136.
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  8.  9
    Investigations in Universal Grammar: A Guide to Experiments on the Acquisition of Syntax and Semantics.Stephen Crain & Rosalind Thornton - 2000 - Linguistics and Philosophy 23 (5):523-532.
  9. The Acquisition of Disjunction: Evidence for a Grammatical View of Scalar Implicatures.Stephen Crain - manuscript
    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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  10. Navigating Negative Quantificational Space.Stephen Crain & Rosalind Thornton - unknown
    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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  11.  5
    Testing Theories of Plural Meanings.Lyn Tieu, Cory Bill, Jacopo Romoli & Stephen Crain - 2020 - Cognition 205:104307.
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  12.  24
    Lateralization of Brain Activation in Fluent and Non-Fluent Preschool Children: A Magnetoencephalographic Study of Picture-Naming.Paul F. Sowman, Stephen Crain, Elisabeth Harrison & Blake W. Johnson - 2014 - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8.
  13.  23
    Scalar Implicatures Versus Presuppositions: The View From Acquisition.Cory Bill, Jacopo Romoli, Florian Schwarz & Stephen Crain - 2016 - Topoi 35 (1):57-71.
    This paper reports an experimental investigation of presuppositions and scalar implicatures in language acquisition. Recent proposals posit the same mechanisms for generating both types of inferences, in contrast to the traditional view. We used a Covered Box picture selection task to compare the interpretations assigned by two groups of children and by adults, in response to sentences with presuppositions and ones with either ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’ scalar implicatures. The main finding was that the behavior of children and adults differed across (...)
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  14.  41
    Are There Universals of Reading? We Don't Believe So.Max Coltheart & Stephen Crain - 2012 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35 (5):282-283.
    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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  15. At the Semantics/Pragmatics Interface in Child Language.Stephen Crain - manuscript
    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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  16. Why Language Acquisition is a Snap.Stephen Crain & Paul M. Pietroski - 2002 - 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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  17.  9
    On Children’s Variable Success with Scalar Inferences: Insights From Disjunction in the Scope of a Universal Quantifier.Elena Pagliarini, Cory Bill, Jacopo Romoli, Lyn Tieu & Stephen Crain - 2018 - Cognition 178:178-192.
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  18. Why No Child or Adult Must Learn De Morgan's Laws.Andrea Gualmini & Stephen Crain - unknown
    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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  19. Innate Ideas.Paul M. Pietroski & Stephen Crain - 2005 - In James A. McGilvray (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 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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  20.  3
    An Asymmetric Universal in Child Language.A. Gualmini, L. Meroni & Stephen Crain - unknown
  21.  22
    Grammatical Aspect and Event Recognition in Children’s Online Sentence Comprehension.Peng Zhou, Stephen Crain & Likan Zhan - 2014 - Cognition 133 (1):262-276.
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  22.  16
    Hidden Units in Child Language.Stephen Crain, Takuya Goro & Utako Minai - unknown
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  23.  38
    The Language Faculty.Paul Pietroski & Stephen Crain - unknown
  24.  5
    The Case of the Missing Generalizations.Stephen Crain, Rosalind Thornton & Drew Khlentzos - 2009 - Cognitive Linguistics 20 (1).
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  25.  9
    Sentence Matching and Overgeneration.Stephen Crain & Janet Dean Fodor - 1987 - Cognition 26 (2):123-169.
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  26.  5
    The Structure of Children's Linguistic Knowledge.Andrea Gualmini & Stephen Crain - unknown
  27. Acquisition of Disjunction in Conditional Sentences.Stephen Crain - manuscript
    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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  28. Why No Child or Adult Must Learn de Morgan's Laws.Stephen Crain - manuscript
    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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  29.  22
    8 Innate Ideas.Paul Pietroski & Stephen Crain - 2005 - In James A. McGilvray (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky. Cambridge University Press. pp. 164.
  30.  16
    Plans and Semantics in Human Processing of Language.Henry Hamburger & Stephen Crain - 1987 - Cognitive Science 11 (1):101-136.
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  31.  7
    The Interpretation of Disjunction in the Scope of Dou in Child Mandarin.Shasha An, Peng Zhou & Stephen Crain - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
    A recent theory provides a unified cross-linguistic analysis of the interpretations that are assigned to expressions for disjunction, Negative Polarity Items, Free Choice Items, and the non-interrogative uses of wh-phrases in languages such as Mandarin Chinese. If this approach is on the right track, children should be expected to demonstrate similar patterns in the acquisition of these linguistic expressions. Previous research has found that, by age four, children have acquired the knowledge that both the existential indefinite renhe “any” and wh-words (...)
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  32. Children's Asymmetrical Responses.Stephen Crain - manuscript
    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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  33. Children's Command of Negation.Stephen Crain - manuscript
    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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  34.  12
    Charting the Course of Language Development.Stephen Crain - 1991 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):639-650.
  35. How Adults and Children Manage Stress in Ambiguous Contexts.Stephen Crain - manuscript
    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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  36. How Children Avoid Kindergarten Paths.Stephen Crain - unknown
    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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  37.  37
    Innateness and Universal Grammar.Stephen Crain & Paul Pietroski - 2003 - In L. Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group.
  38. If Everybody Knows, Then Every Child Knows.Stephen Crain - manuscript
    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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  39. It's Not Wise to Fool with Mother Nature.Stephen Crain - unknown
    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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  40. On Not Being Led Down the Kindergarten Path.Stephen Crain - unknown
    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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  41. Rapid Relief of Stress in Dealing with Ambiguity.Stephen Crain - manuscript
    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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  42. The Acquisition of Syntax.Stephen Crain - manuscript
    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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  43. The Emergence of Meaning.Stephen Crain - 2012 - Cambridge University Press.
    Over the past forty years, scientists have developed models of human reasoning based on the principle that human languages and classical logic involve fundamentally different concepts and different methods of interpretation. In The Emergence of Meaning Stephen Crain challenges this view, arguing that a common logical nativism underpins human language and logical reasoning. The approach which Crain takes is twofold. Firstly, he uncovers the underlying meanings of logical expressions and logical principles that appear in typologically different languages - English and (...)
     
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  44.  24
    The Inclusion of Disjunction in Child Grammar: Evidence From Modal Verbs.Stephen Crain - manuscript
    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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  45.  3
    Phrase Structure Parameters.Janet Dean Fodor & Stephen Crain - 1990 - Linguistics and Philosophy 13 (6):619-659.
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  46.  57
    Phrase Structure Parameters.Janet Fodor & Stephen Crain - 1990 - Linguistics and Philosophy 13 (6):619 - 659.
  47.  6
    Disjunction Triggers Exhaustivity Implicatures in 4- to 5-Year-Olds: Investigating the Role of Access to Alternatives.Nicole Gotzner, David Barner & Stephen Crain - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (2):219-245.
    Children’s difficulty deriving scalar implicatures has been attributed to a variety of factors including processing limitations, an inability to access scalar alternatives, and pragmatic tolerance. The present research explores the nature of children’s difficulty by investigating a previously unexplored kind of inference—an exhaustivity implicature that is triggered by disjunction. We reasoned that if children are able to draw quantity implicatures but have difficulties accessing alternative lexical expressions from a scale, then they should perform better on exhaustivity implicatures than on scalar (...)
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  48. Children's Asymmetrical Responses.Andrea Gualmini & Stephen Crain - unknown
    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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  49. Children's Insensitivity to Contrastive Stress in Sentences with ONLY.Andrea Gualmini, Stephen Crain & Simona Maciukaite - unknown
    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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  50.  16
    Everybody Knows.Andrea Gualmini, Stephen Crain & Luisa Meroni - unknown
    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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