Linguistic Nativism and the Poverty of the Stimulus

Linguistic Nativism and the Poverty of the Stimulus

by Alexander Clark, Shalom Lappin
     
 

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This unique contribution to the ongoing discussion of language acquisition considers the Argument from the Poverty of the Stimulus in language learning in the context of the wider debate over cognitive, computational, and linguistic issues.
  • Critically examines the Argument from the Poverty of the Stimulus - the theory that the linguistic input which

Overview

This unique contribution to the ongoing discussion of language acquisition considers the Argument from the Poverty of the Stimulus in language learning in the context of the wider debate over cognitive, computational, and linguistic issues.

  • Critically examines the Argument from the Poverty of the Stimulus - the theory that the linguistic input which children receive is insufficient to explain the rich and rapid development of their knowledge of their first language(s) through general learning mechanisms
  • Focuses on formal learnability properties of the class of natural languages, considered from the perspective of several learning theoretic models
  • The only current book length study of arguments for the poverty of the stimulus which focuses on the computational learning theoretic aspects of the problem

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This book is not only very pertinent, but also succeeds in eschewing most of the polemical excess that tends to engulf us all in this field It’s not an easy book..  but I think it gives some sense of what the enterprise is about.  Alex Clark describes it, at one point, as an exercise in clearing the ground – and it succeeds in sweeping away certain comfortable assumptions that are often made in this area, concerning (for instance) the irrelevance of negative evidence, what languages are provably unlearnable, and the role of the Chomsky hierarchy.”  (New Books in Language, 8 June 2012)

“Most of all, it challenges basic concepts in mainstream linguistics. It rejects key tenets of UG in the light of advances in machine learning theory, and research in the computational modelling of the language acquisition process. It exposes so-called proofs supporting the poverty of stimulus, and reveals alternatives that are formally more comprehensive than the explanations previously provided by UG theories, and empirically more likely to match natural language acquisition processes.” (Linguist List, 2011)

“This book is not only very pertinent, but also succeeds in eschewing most of the polemical excess that tends to engulf us all in this field. It’s not an easy book … but I think it gives some sense of what the enterprise is about.  Alex Clark describes it, at one point, as an exercise in clearing the ground – and it succeeds in sweeping away certain comfortable assumptions that are often made in this area, concerning (for instance) the irrelevance of negative evidence, what languages are provably unlearnable, and the role of the Chomsky hierarchy.” (New Books in Language, 2012 – review and interview available at http://newbooksinlanguage.com/2012/06/08/alexander-clark-and-shalom-lappin-linguistic-nativism-and-the-poverty-of-the-stimulus-wiley-blackwell-2011/)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781444390551
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
12/21/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
264
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
This highly readable, but game-changing book shows to what extent the 'poverty of the stimulus' argument stems from nothing more than poverty of the imagination. A must-read for generative linguists.
Ivan Sag, Stanford University

 For fifty years, the "poverty of the stimulus" has driven "nativist" linguistics.  Clark and Lappin challenge the PoS and develop a formal foundation for language learning. This brilliant book should be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to understand the most fundamental question in linguistics.
Richard Sproat, Oregon Health and Science University 

Clark and Lappin provide a brilliant and wide-ranging re-examination of one of the most important questions in cognitive science: how much innate structure is required to support language acquisition. A remarkable achievement.
Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science, University of Warwick

This comprehensive cutting-edge treatise on linguistic nativism skillfully untangles the human capacity to effortlessly learn languages, from claims that this capacity is specific to language.
Juliette Blevins, CUNY Graduate Center

Meet the Author

Alexander Clark is a Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the co-editor, with Chris Fox and Shalom Lappin, of The Handbook of Computational Linguistics and Natural Language Processing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

Shalom Lappin is Professor of Computational Linguistics at King's College, London. He is editor of The Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory (Wiley-Blackwell, 1996); co-author, with Chris Fox, of Foundations of Intensional Semantics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005) and, with Alexander Clark and Chris Fox, co-editor of The Handbook of Computational Linguistics and Natural Language Processing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

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