Empirical assessment of stimulus poverty arguments

  title={Empirical assessment of stimulus poverty arguments},
  author={Geoffrey K. Pullum and Barbara C. Scholz},
Abstract This article examines a type of argument for linguistic nativism that takes the following form: (i) a fact about some natural language is exhibited that allegedly could not be learned from experience without access to a certain kind of (positive) data; (ii) it is claimed that data of the type in question are not found in normal linguistic experience; hence (iii) it is concluded that people cannot be learning the language from mere exposure to language use. We analyze the components of… 
Understanding stimulus poverty arguments
Abstract The argument from the poverty of the stimulus as Pullum and Scholz define it (their APS) is undeniably true, given that all language learners acquire the ability to generate more sentences
Searching for arguments to support linguistic nativism
Abstract This article is a reply to the foregoing responses to our “Empirical assessment of stimulus poverty arguments” (Pullum and Scholz, this special volume, here-after EASPA). We first address
The best-known argument in favor of the innatism of certain mental structures is still the ‘Poverty of the Stimulus Argument’ (PoSA). The general idea of the PoSA is that the knowledge which needs to
Reappraising Poverty of Stimulus Argument : A Corpus Analysis Approach
The debate between empiricism and nativism goes back to the very beginning of philosophy. More recently, the nature of linguistic structure has been the focus of discussion in the field of
Nativism and the poverty of the stimulus: A demanding argument for the ‘innateness’ of language
This article critiques nativism about language (also called linguistic nativism), the view that language capacities are somehow innate, associated especially with Noam Chomsky (for example, 1980,
Nativism in Linguistics : Empirical and Theoretical Issues
The debate concerning linguistic nativism has been ongoing for years. For that reason, few have bothered to clarify the initial intricacies of the argument, to fully understand why it is being
Empirical re-assessment of stimulus poverty arguments
Abstract It is a fact that the child learner does not entertain logically possible but empirically impossible linguistic hypotheses, despite the absence of sufficient disconfirming evidence. While
Reassessing the Poverty of the Stimulus
Existing research on how people learn language has significantly impacted the long-standing nature vs. nurture debate. Evidence for innate linguistic knowledge often derives from certain grammatical
The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory
The object of inquiry in linguistics is the human ability to acquire and use a natural language, and the goal of linguistic theory is an explicit characterization of that ability. Looking at the
Little Red Riding Hood and the Chomskyan Wolf: A debate on Poverty of the Stimulus Arguments
The present article discusses the empirical validity of the so-called poverty of the stimulus argument within nativist accounts of first language acquisition. Arguments against nativism in early


Connectionism and three levels of nativism
Along with the increasing popularity of connectionist language models has come a number of provocative suggestions about the challenge these models present to Chomsky's arguments for nativism. The
Knowledge of language: its nature, origin, and use
Why do we know so much more than we have evidence for in certain areas, and so much less in others? In tackling these questions--Plato's and Orwell's problem--Chomsky again demonstrates his
On Certain Substitutes for Negative Data
Much of the recent discussion of language learnability has centered around the absence for the learner of negative evidence and the implications of that absence. The basic argument has been
Language acquisition in the absence of experience
  • S. Crain
  • Linguistics
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 1991
Abstract 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
The child's trigger experience: Degree-0 learnability
Abstract According to a “selective” (as opposed to “instructive”) model of human language capacity, people come to know more than they experience. The discrepancy between experience and eventual
The Plausibility of Rationalism
The rationalist-empiricist debate that preoccupied so many linguists, philosophers, and psychologists during the late sixties ran out of steam in the mid-seventies when both parties eventually tired
Structure dependence in grammar formation
Action NP's 26 24 2 Expletive NP's 41 36 5 Controls 41 38 3 TABLE 7. Frequency of correct and incorrect responses by sentence type. Returning to the results of the pretest, the first observation is
What's within? Nativism Reconsidered
This powerfully iconoclastic book reconsiders the influential nativist position toward the mind. Nativists assert that some concepts, beliefs, or capacities are innate or inborn: "native" to the mind
语言与心理 = Language and mind
This is the third edition of Chomsky's outstanding collection of essays on language and mind, first published in 2006. The first six chapters, originally published in the 1960s, made a groundbreaking