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Generative linguistic theory stands on the hypothesis that grammar cannot be acquired solely on the basis of an analysis of the input, but depends, in addition, on innate structure within the learner to guide the process of acquisition. This hypothesis derives from a logical argument, however, and its consequences have never been examined experimentally(More)
Studies under the heading "syntactic bootstrapping" have demonstrated that syntax guides young children's interpretations during verb learning. We evaluate two hypotheses concerning the origins of syntactic bootstrapping effects. The "universalist" view, holding that syntactic bootstrapping falls out from universal properties of the syntax-semantics(More)
This paper proposes and defends an Interface Transparency Thesis concerning how linguistic meanings are related to the cognitive systems that are used to evaluate sentences for truth/falsity: a declarative sentence S is semantically associated with a canonical procedure for determining whether S is true (cf. Dummett 1973, Horty 2007); and while this(More)
In this article we present data from two sets of experiments designed to investigate how children and adult speakers of English and Kannada (Dravidian) interpret scopally ambiguous sentences containing numerally quantified noun phrases and negation (e.g. Donald didn't find two guys). We use this kind of sentence as a way to find evidence in children's(More)
The meaning of 'most' can be described in many ways. We offer a framework for distinguishing semantic descriptions, interpreted as psychological hypotheses that go beyond claims about sentential truth conditions, and an experiment that tells against an attractive idea: 'most' is understood in terms of one-to-one correspondence. Adults evaluated 'Most of the(More)
This paper focuses on how phrasal prosody and function words may interact during early language acquisition. Experimental results show that infants have access to intermediate prosodic phrases (phonological phrases) during the first year of life, and use these to constrain lexical segmentation. These same intermediate prosodic phrases are used by adults to(More)
This paper explores what children and adults know about three specific ways that meaning and context interact: the interpretation of expressions whose extensions vary in different contexts (semantic context dependence); conditions on the felicitous use of expressions in a discourse context (presupposition accommodation) and informative uses of expressions(More)
We revisit the purported locality constraint on Quantifier Raising (QR) by investigating children's and adults' interpretation of antecedent-contained-deletion (ACD) sentences, where the interpretation depends on the landing site targeted by QR out of an embedded clause. When ACD is embedded in a nonfinite clause, 4-year-old children and adults access both(More)
Formal grammatical theories make extensive use of syntactic relations (e.g. c-command, Reinhart, 1983) in the description of constraints on antecedent-anaphor dependencies. Recent research has motivated a model of processing that exploits a cue-based retrieval mechanism in content-addressable memory (e.g. Lewis, Vasishth, & Van Dyke, 2006) in which(More)
Evidence of children's sensitivity to statistical features of their input in language acquisition is often used to argue against learning mechanisms driven by innate knowledge. At the same time, evidence of children acquiring knowledge that is richer than the input supports arguments in favor of such mechanisms. This tension can be resolved by separating(More)