Empirical assessment of stimulus poverty arguments

  title={Empirical assessment of stimulus poverty arguments},
  author={G. Pullum and B. 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… Expand
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 sentencesExpand
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 addressExpand
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 toExpand
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 ofExpand
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,Expand
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 beingExpand
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. WhileExpand
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 grammaticalExpand
The poverty of the Mayan stimulus*
  • C. Pye
  • Medicine, Psychology
  • Journal of Child Language
  • 2011
The article demonstrates how POS arguments for individual languages lead to a reductio ad absurdum as POS arguments from genetically related languages are compared, and shows that universal principles of grammar cannot be established on the basis ofPOS arguments from a single language. Expand
Logical Structure of Linguistic eory
e 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 theExpand


The argument underestimates the extent to which positive data can supply negative evidence and hence overestimates the intractability of language learning in the absence of a dedicated faculty, and indicates a need for domain-specific constraints. Expand
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