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Rich languages from poor inputs - Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini

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Rich languages from poor inputs
Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini
Paperback / softback
Oxford University Press
UK Publication Date

This book addresses one of the most famous and controversial arguments in the study of language and mind, the Poverty of the Stimulus. Presented by Chomsky in 1968, the argument holds that children do not receive enough evidence to infer the existence of core aspects of language, such as the dependence of linguistic rules on hierarchical phrase structure. The argument strikes against empiricist accounts of language acquisition and supports the conclusion thatknowledge of some aspects of grammar must be innate. In the first part of Rich Languages from Poor Inputs, contributors consider the general issues around the Poverty of the Stimulus argument, review the empirical data, and offer new and plausible explanations. This is followed by a discussion of the processes of language acquisition, and observed 'gaps' between adult and child grammar, concentrating on the late spontaneous acqquisition by children of some key syntactic principles, mainly, though not exclusively, between the ages of 5and 9. The last part of the book widens the horizon beyond language acquisition in the narrow sense, examining the natural development of reading and writing and of the child's growing sensitivity for the fine arts.

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Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini is Professor Cognitive Science at the University of Arizona and a member of the Department of Linguistics, the Cognitive Science Program, and the Department of Psychology. In October 1975 he organized the encounter between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky and in 1980 edited the proceedings Language and Learning, now translated into 11 languages and the echoes of which still explictly resonate in the present volume. He is the editor,
with Juan Uriagereka and Pello Salaburu, of Minds and Language: A Dialogue with Noam Chomsky in the Basque Country (OUP, 2009; paperback 2010), and author, with Jerrry Fodor, of What Darwin Got Wrong (Profile, 2010).

Robert C. Berwick is Professor of Computer Science and Computational Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has published more than half a dozen books on the nature of language, language learnability, and computation, starting from his 1982 dissertation, The Acquisition of Syntactic Knowledge (MIT Press) to The Grammatical Basis of Linguistic Performance (MIT Press, 1986), Computational Complexity and Natural Language (MIT Press, 1987), and
Principle-Based Parsing (Kluwer, 1999). Most recently, he has focused on the biology of language, particularly language evolution.

Rich Languages is an unusual book, assembled as a homage to an unusual woman ... The various outstanding contributors to this volume ... are some of the leaders of the generative enterprise. They seamlessly converge on a rich narrative that is cohesive and engaging - a real page-turner. The convergence is itself a testament to the impact of her pioneering path.

Iris Berent, Language

Offers a very comprehensive and detailed overview of the state of current POS research and offers great insight into POS problems currently under investigation in the field of language acquisition.

Melissa Whatley, Linguist List

Keyword Index
Language acquisition.|Language acquisition - Social aspects.
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