Nature, Nurture And Universal Grammar

  title={Nature, Nurture And Universal Grammar},
  author={Stephen Crain and Paul Pietroski},
  journal={Linguistics and Philosophy},
In just a few years, children achieve a stable state of linguistic competence, making them effectively adults with respect to: understanding novel sentences, discerning relations of paraphrase and entailment, acceptability judgments, etc. One familiar account of the language acquisition process treats it as an induction problem of the sort that arises in any domain where the knowledge achieved is logically underdetermined by experience. This view highlights the ‘cues’ that are available in the… 

1 Innate Linguistic Knowledge

Children manifest linguistic competence equivalent to that of adults in the first few years of life. By the age of three, children around the globe can produce and understand novel sentences, they

Syntax acquisition.

The usage-based account first, and then the nativist account are discussed, and the findings of several studies of child language that have been conducted are reported with the goal of helping to adjudicate between the alternative approaches to language development.

Why language acquisition is a snap

Abstract Nativists inspired by Chomsky are apt to provide arguments with the following general form: languages exhibit interesting generalizations that are not suggested by casual (or even intensive)

Grammatical categories and the nature-nurture debate

The linguistic mainstream typically describes first-language acquistion as a process involving innate species- and domain-specific abilities. Such accounts of syntactic development conceive the

Language Acquisition

Every normal child acquires a language in just a few years. By four or five, children have effectively become adults in their abilities to produce and understand endlessly many sentences in a variety

Children's interpretation of disjunction in questions in Japanese

The theory of Universal Grammar (UG) was advanced to explain various phenomena observed in human languages, and to explain children s universal mastery of human language (Chomsky, 1981). UG is

An extension and implementation of a computational theory of language

A more powerful UGE has been developed and the theory was found to be feasible and the performance of UGE was evaluated, both in terms of how well it parses sentences and in termsof how it performs compared to some existing parsers.

The Interpretation of Disjunction in Universal Grammar

  • S. Crain
  • Linguistics
    Language and speech
  • 2008
Based on findings from child language and cross-linguistic research, it looks like certain aspects of language, including the interpretation of disjunction, are part of the human genome.

Conservative Learning and the Truncation Hypothesis

Every normal child acquires a language in just a few years. By 3or 4-years-old, children have effectively become adults in their abilities to produce and understand endlessly many sentences in a



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

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

Negative evidence in language acquisition

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

Investigations in universal grammar: A guide to experiments on the acquisition of syntax and semantics

Part 1 The modularity matching model: constraints and universal grammar the poverty of the stimulus models of language development continuity versus input matching the competing factors model

Formal grammars in linguistics and psycholinguistics

In a newly added postscript the author has sketched what has become, after all these years, of formal grammars in linguistics and psycholinguistics, or at least some of the core developments.

Beyond the Input Given: The Child's Role in the Acquisition of Language

The child's creative contribution to the language-acquisition process is potentially most apparent in situations where the linguistic input available to the child is degraded, providing the child

Rethinking Eliminative Connectionism

It is shown that the class of eliminative connectionist models that is currently popular cannot learn to extend universals outside the training space, and this limitation might be avoided through the use of an architecture that implements symbol manipulation.

Brown & Hanlon revisited: mothers' sensitivity to ungrammatical forms

Focusing on repetitions, it is found that mothers are more inclined to repeat ungrammatical than grammatical sentences generated by 2- year-old subjects, indicating that the language learning environment does present subtle cues that distinguish between well-formed and ill-formed sentences.

Methods for assessing children's syntax

Part 1 Production data: collecting spontaneous production data, Katherine Demuth analyzing children's spontaneous speech, Karin Stromswold what children know about what they say - elicited imitation