Lang Review Questions 7
1. Terms to know
a. Set –
b. Subset – smaller set
c. Superset – larger set
d. Poverty of the stimulus – children encounter data that are compatible with many hypotheses
about the correct rules and patterns of the language
e. Impoverished data – data that does not single out the correct generalization itself
f. Prior knowledge – knowledge that children have that restrict their hypothesis for what the rules
and patterns of the language might be
g. Auxiliary verb – the verb that is moved to create a yes/no question
h. Yes/no questions – examples that we have to show evidence of the use of auxiliary verbs EX:
Jareth can alter time. Can Jareth alter time?
i. Complex yes/no questions – Anyone who can wish away their brother would be tempted to do it.
Would anyone who can wish away their brother be tempted to do it?
j. Structure-dependent –
k. Nativist –
l. Linguistic nativist –
m. Subset problem –
n. Subset principle –
o. Conservative learner –
p. Size principle –
q. Anaphoric one – standard linguistic theory says that one in these kind of utterance is a syntactic
category smaller than an entire noun phrase, but larger than just a noun
r. Linguistic antecedent –
s. Syntactic island –
t. Domain-general vs domain specific –
u. Innate vs derived –
v. Universal grammar hypothesis –
2. The set of sentences actually in English are a subset of the sentences that could possibly be in English
because the sentences not in English are a combination of known words. There are an infinite number
of ways to combine known English words into sentences and those that are real English sentences are a
smaller group than those that are not English sentences. The smaller set of actual English sentences are
more refined and have less possibilities.
3. The set of sentences that children encounter while they’re forming their mental grammar is smaller than
the set of sentences they need to be able to eventually generate as competent speakers of their native
language because we have evidence that children produce sentences and word combinations that they
have not heard before. Children must make the right generalizations from data that are compatible with
multiple generalizations. The data encountered are impoverished. They do not single out the correct
generalizations by themselves.
4. The data that children encounter can be considered an impoverished data set because they do not single
out the correct generalizations by themselves. The items encountered are too impoverished because they
do not pick out every option.
5. Prior knowledge helps the children because they encounter data that are compatible with many
hypotheses about the correct rules and patterns of the language. The data encountered are compatible
with both the correct hypothesis and other, incorrect hypotheses about the rules and patterns of the
language. Children never produce errors compatible with the incorrect hypotheses. They only seem to
produce items that are compatible with the correct hypothesis. Therefore, children have some prior
knowledge that causes them never to consider the incorrect hypotheses. Instead, they only consider the
correct hypothesis for what the rules and patterns of the language might be. 6. Structural distinctions like main vs embedded clauses figure into the rule that English speakers know for
forming yes/no questions this approach tries to look at sentences structure, not just he linear order of the
words in sentences. Embedded clauses are additional descriptive sentences that are not part of the main
clause. This rule for yes/no sentences states that we should move the auxiliary verb in the main clause
to make a yes/no question. This is a rule dependent on the structure of the sentences, since it refers to
the “main clause”.
7. Children’s performance on complex yes/no questions in English demonstrate constrained generalization
in children because children constrain their generalizations in a specific way, based on their innate
knowledge. It may be domain specific knowledge about language or domain-general knowledge.
Children constrain their generalizations in a specific way, based on their innate knowledge of language.
Most of the yes/no questions that children normally encounter consist of simple yes/no questions with
only one auxiliary verb. They do not encounter all of the examples we saw. They encounter a subset of
the possible yes/no questions in English. The simple yes/no questions are compatible with a lot of
different rules. A rational learner would predict that if children consider all these hypotheses they
should make mistakes on more complex yes/no questions. Evidence showed that actual children as
young as three years old don’t make these mistakes. They use the right rules for this complex yes/no
8. The linguistic nativist position believes that children constrain their generalizations in a specific way,
based on their innate knowledge of language. The nativist position says that children constrain their
generalizations in a specific way, based on their innate knowledge but may be domain-specific
knowledge about language or domain-general knowledge.
9. The difference between linguistic nativist and a nativist is that nativists believe that children use
domain-specific and domain-general knowledge, which means that it is derived knowledge, while
linguistic nativists believe that this is purely innate knowledge.
10. Crain & McKee’s study show that children’s pronoun interpretation show evidence of constrained
generalization due to the evidence that they can put pronoun before name or name before pronoun. For
example, they can change the sentence “While he danced around the throne room, Jareth smiled” to
“Jareth smiled while he danced around the throne”
a. (i) Will t