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Lecture 5

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Craig Chambers

PSY315 Lecture 5 Grammatical Development con’t What kinds of cues guide the acquisition of syntax? - Nativist View o Come with blueprint in your head with what language is supposed to look like o “Universal Grammar”  specific kind of blueprint o blueprint comes with partial specification with what language should look like and has a set of choices that are pre-defined that are set by language experience o role played by language experience o doesn’t claim that experience is nothing o experience sets the remaining settings of the blueprint to yield an internal understanding of language o optional setting within this blueprint:  ex. Adjectives come before nouns or after nouns  ex. Subjects can come after or before verbs • English, you know that subjects come before verbs o Other languages, the subject comes after the verbs o Blueprint has a number of settings defined in it, and your experience adds the rest of the story (sets those settings) o Encapsulated cognitive “module”  Own mental organ o Evidence:  Looks like a maturational process • Learned in a uniform way across the world • Despite the differences • OVERALL, language development is pretty uniform o Some differences but they are minor • Would be unexpected if children were beginning with a blank slate and trying to figure out language  would expect more errors  Plausible mistakes • Expect children to make more mistakes, or certain kinds of mistakes that children don’t produce • Produce some mistakes, but there’s lots of mistakes they don’t seem to make o Suggests that children know some things, or come pre-packaged with some information that they haven’t been taught  Genetic heritage as human is giving them stuff - Empiricist View o Idea is children’s general cognitive abilities equip them with mechanisms that allow them to learn language on the basis of “input” alone  Don’t need some sort of road map to show what language looks like o If we just treat language as a garden variety learning problem, maybe they can learn it o Maybe the exposure they get from language is sufficient for them to learn language o Not learning language on the basis of isolated events, using aggregate patterns over time  Brain chunking away all these individual acts of speaking, and working away all these data in the back o More optimistic view about the processing/memory abilities of children, implicit thinking o NOT a dedicated module  Intrinsically linked to your developmental cognitive abilities  Links to general cognition and not some organ that sits on its’ own PSY315 Lecture 5 o Evidence:  Demonstrations • Distributional cues: patterns in language that are learned over the course of experience o Certain things that we thought might be innate that have been discovered could be learned • Children are attending to the patterns they encounter  Syntactic knowledge • Learn some construction, and seems to be very bound to the particular word o Ex. Child learns in English “Fred gave the dog a bone,” can say it in many ways  Learn alternations • “John passed Fred milk” or “Fred passed John milk” o pass – learn the possib
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