Chapter

Every Child an Isolate: Nature's Experiments in Language Learning

Lila Gleitman and Barbara Landau

in Rich Languages From Poor Inputs

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199590339
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745041 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199590339.003.0006
Every Child an Isolate: Nature's Experiments in Language Learning

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Drawing upon the work of Carol Chomsky, this chapter focuses on two specific issues. The first concerns the robustness of language acquisition to variability in learners' access to input that appear crucial to the function being acquired, as seen from language studies in people who became both deaf and blind during infancy. The second concerns the abilities of children to reconstruct the meanings of sentences with covert structure, as in Carol Chomsky's landmark studies of whether blindfolded dolls might be hard to see. These two themes exemplify the general problem known as ‘the poverty of the stimulus’; in the present case, how humans reconstruct linguistic form and meaning from the blatantly inadequate information offered in their usable environment.

Keywords: Carol Chomsky; language acquisition; Poverty of the Stimulus; children; linguistic form; meaning

Chapter.  5881 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Linguistics

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