I wrote (but '*' added by J. Zavrel):
> [...] Based on *assumptions* about
> what input children get in learning,
>Chomsky _then_ asks how the inferred
> structure of the black box might have
> gotten there, i.e. how
> language learning might have worked.
To which J. Zavrel responded:
>The problem with this approach could
>hardly have been summarized more
>elegantly... this is precisely the methodology
>used in generative linguistics, and the very
>reason it doesn't reveal much about
>language (acquisition/use) in the human mind.
Ah, you Philistines! Let me alone so I can get some work done...
I should have added the phrase "empirically verifiable" before "assumptions." Because they are, you know (at least some of them). If (and that is an "if"!) theoretical linguistics shows that the COMP-trace filter, for example, is correct, then it is an empirical question whether parents (or other caregivers, etc.) explicitly teach it to their children. Similarly for most of the other principles that generative linguists claim are true of natural language. If these principles are not taught (and if they are correct), then it is incumbent on doubters to show how else they might be inferred (or the generalizations otherwise accounted for) from the data, in the absence of negative data (correction). It seems to me in most cases that the hard part is finding the correct principles; telling whether parents teach them should be comparatively easy. (I never taught the COMP-trace filter to my children, in fact I occasionally tried out sentences on them which violated the generalization. They still came out spe
aking English. Well, more or less. My daughter insists that "He's like 'Come here!'" is grammatical...)
I suspect it's time for a disclaimer, since my affiliation appears in my signature. The opinions I've been expressing are mine, not those of the Summer Institute of Linguistics. In fact, there are some nice people in SIL, and maybe even some Philistines. (Hi, Bill!)
Summer Institute of Linguistics
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Apr 09 2001 - 19:56:06 MET DST