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Rich Languages From Poor Inputs

Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini and Robert C. Berwick


This book addresses one of the most famous and controversial arguments in the study of language and mind, the Poverty of the Stimulus (POS). 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 that knowledge of some aspects of grammar must be innate. In the first part of this book, chapters consider the general issues around t ... More

Keywords: Poverty of the Stimulus, Chomsky, children, language acquisition, POS argument, reading, writing, fine arts, grammar

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780199590339
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199590339.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, editor
Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona

Robert C. Berwick, editor
Department of Brain and Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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1 Introduction

Massimo Piattelli‐Palmarini and Robert C. Berwick

Part I Poverty of the Stimulus and Modularity Revised

2 Poverty of the Stimulus Stands: Why Recent Challenges Fail1

Robert C. Berwick, Noam Chomsky, and Massimo Piattelli‐Palmarini

Part II Discrepancies between Child Grammar and Adult Grammar

7 Recent Findings about Language Acquisition

Jean‐Rémy Hochmann and Jacques Mehler

11 Assessing Child and Adult Grammar

Julie Anne Legate and Charles Yang*

Part III Broadening the Picture: Spelling and Reading

End Matter