The Emergence of Meaning

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Overview

Over the past forty years, scientists have developed models of human reasoning based on the principle that human languages and classical logic involve fundamentally different concepts and different methods of interpretation. In The Emergence of Meaning Stephen Crain challenges this view, arguing that a common logical nativism underpins human language and logical reasoning. The approach which Crain takes is twofold. Firstly, he uncovers the underlying meanings of logical expressions and logical principles that ...

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The Emergence of Meaning

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Overview

Over the past forty years, scientists have developed models of human reasoning based on the principle that human languages and classical logic involve fundamentally different concepts and different methods of interpretation. In The Emergence of Meaning Stephen Crain challenges this view, arguing that a common logical nativism underpins human language and logical reasoning. The approach which Crain takes is twofold. Firstly, he uncovers the underlying meanings of logical expressions and logical principles that appear in typologically different languages - English and Mandarin Chinese - and he demonstrates that these meanings and principles directly correspond to the expressions and structures of classical logic. Secondly he reports the findings of new experimental studies which investigate how children acquire the logical concepts of these languages. A step-by-step introduction to logic and a comprehensive review of the literature on child language acquisition make this work accessible to those unfamiliar with either field.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This careful and sophisticated study provides powerful empirical evidence, from many sources, for logical nativism, the thesis that human languages make use of the logical concepts and laws of classical logic, and that these are contingent facts that are not learned and not required for a rational creature. It extends the conclusion to other aspects of natural language, its acquisition and use. The conclusions are compelling, and of great import for linguistics, philosophical logic, and psychology of language and mind quite generally." —Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"In this lucid study of how children understand logical vocabulary, Crain makes a powerful case for a substantive form of logical nativism. Using tools from classical logic and generative grammar, he unifies a range of individually impressive experimental results, thereby illustrating his fruitful method for investigating how semantic and logical competences are related." —Paul M. Pietroski, Professor of Philosophy and Linguistics, University of Maryland

"New and deep ideas are a rarity in the study of language acquisition, and Stephen Crain's The Emergence of Meaning has plenty of both. This is likely to be considered one of the most important books in language acquisition in years." —Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of The Language Instinct and The Stuff of Thought.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521858090
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/30/2012
  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Linguistics , #135
  • Pages: 201
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Crain is a Distinguished Professor at Macquarie University and a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He is also Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders.

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Table of Contents

1. Logic and human languages; 2. Competing approaches to language and logic; 3. The case for logical nativism; 4. Scope parameters; 5. How something can be both positive and negative; 6. Two logical operators for the price of one.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

    excellent book, makes strong case for logical nativism

    Very well written. Makes a strong case for logical nativism. This is the idea that the rules of first order logic must be innate and part of the language faculty. The author is also more than fair in presenting the differing view that the rules of logic are not innate and can be acquired by children from hearing adult speach. I am a grad student in linguistics and we are reading this book as part of a class in child language acquisition.

    I had problems with the eBook format however. The book contains a lot of mathematical/logical formulas, Chinese sentence examples and figures. These sometimes do not show up (or show up incorrectly) on the android version of Nook (the web version worked fine). BN doesn't allow returns of eBooks (though they allowed mine as a courtesy) so buyer beware.

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