Topics: Linguistics, Noam Chomsky, Universal grammar Pages: 4 (642 words) Published: September 11, 2013
September 11, 2013
The Poverty of the Stimulus

What has happened so far:
* Speakers of a language a body of tacit knowledge: competence * ^Not everyone agrees with this. Behaviorists wanted to reduce ‘knowledge of language’ to behavioral dispositions * Behavioral disposition doesn’t capture what it means to be a speaker of a language. Chomsky: language is stimulus independent and creative * Children have competence of their native languages by the age of 5 (roughly)

How is knowledge acquired in general (or skills, dispositions)?

Nativism (its innate) Vs. Empricism (it comes through experience)

Modern controversy over language acquisition (1950-present)

Empiricism (Behaviorism, Connectionism)- exposure to language (primary linguistic data) + TEACHING [for many empiricist]
+ GENERAL Cognitive Capacities

Modern Nativism (Chomsky: Generative Grammar) – exposure to language (primary linguistic data) + LANGUAGE SPECIFIC Cognitive Capacities (universal grammar)

* Continue investigating various aspects of language
* Compare findings to what the competing theories lead us to expect (their predictions) * Our take: there’s good evidence for innateness

The Poverty of the Stimulus: Evidence for Innateness

Language learning must go from PRIMARY LINGUISTIC DATA (PLD) to TARGET GRAMMAR (competence)

“The information in the environment is not rich enough to allow a human learner to attain adult competence” –Noam Chomsky

“Not rich enough”
* Positive statements (what is possible) “certain constructions are too rare” * Negative statements (what is impossible) “not present!”

Auxiliary verb- is, are, have, did, can
Mike is drunk. Is mike drunk?; MOVING THE AUXILIARY VERB

Sets of grammatical sentences according to learner’s grammar match those of target grammar: Target grammar = learners grammar All distinctions of “possible”/”impossible” are in place! Opposite:...
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