What is Language Development?: Rationalist, Empiricist, and Pragmatist Approaches to the Acquisition of Syntax
Language development is one of the major battle grounds within the humanities and sciences. This is the first time that the three major theories in language development research have been fully described and compared within the covers of a single book. The three approaches: (1) The rationalism of Chomsky and the syntactic nativism that it entails; (2)The empiricism instinct in connectionist modelling of syntactic development; (3) The pragmatism of those who see the child as actively constructing a grammatical inventory piece-by-piece through recruiting general learning abilities and socio-cognitive knowledge.
The book is unique in striking a balance between broad philosophical assessment of these three theories and fine-grain, fairly technical, accounts of how they fare at the empirical and linguistic 'coal faces.'
In Part I, the kind of psychology to which rationalism, empiricism, and pragmatism give rise are described with reference to philosophers such as Fodor, Hume, and the American pragmatists from Piece, to Rorty, and Brandom. After an introduction to the syntactic analysis of the sentence, Part 2 continues with an account of the evolution of Chomskyan theory from its inception to present day, followed by a review of developmental research inspired by it. Part 3 takes a sceptical look at connectionist modelling of syntactic development. Part 4 describes the kind of linguistic theories that the socio-cognitive approach find sympathetic, reviewing its empirical progress (e.g., the work of Tomasello), ending with a comparison of how the generativists and functionalists tackle the evolution of syntax. Clearly and accessibly written, the book will be an important text for the developmental psychologists, linguists, and philosophers working on language.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Other editions - View all
ability abstract acquisition anaphora argue argument assumption c-commanding child Chomsky Chomsky's Chomskyan claim clause cognitive cognitive grammar competence concepts connectionism connectionist models constraints construction context d-structure developmental discussion distinction elements Elman empiricism empiricist English example explain expression fact Figure Fodor Fodorian function functionalist generalisation grammar grammaticalisation hidden units human ibid idea innate input interface interpretation Jackendoff John kind knowledge Langacker Langacker's language development learning lexical items linguistic logical meaning mental merge minimalist morpheme nativist nature node notion noun object operation parsing phrase structure rules position pragmatic pragmatist predicate principle production pronoun question rationalist recursive reference regard relation representation represented role rules sceptical semantic sense sentence symbolic syntactic categories syntactic development syntactic structure syntax systematicity thematic roles theory thought tion Tomasello transitive uninterpretable features Valin variable verb word X-bar theory