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The Biological Endowment for Language and Arguments from the Poverty of the Stimulus

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Title:The Biological Endowment for Language and Arguments from the Poverty of the Stimulus
Authors:Hatfield, Hunter
Keywords:linguistics
Date Issued:01 Oct 2007
Publisher:University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics
Citation:Hatfield, Hunter. 2007. The Biological Endowment for Language and Arguments from the Poverty of the Stimulus. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Working Papers in Linguistics 38(6).
Series:University of Hawai‘I at Mānoa Working Papers in Linguistics
Abstract:There is widespread agreement among linguists of almost all theoretical leanings that our biology con-strains the types of languages that can be acquired, but the content of that biological endowment has been the source of continual and fierce debate for many years, a debate usually framed as a choice be-tween nativism and non-nativism. This paper attempts to find a way through this debate by exploring the methodologies available to researchers for answering the biological question. In particular, it as-sesses whether or not Poverty of the Stimulus Arguments (Poverty Arguments) are particularly useful for this endeavor. It is argued that the nature of the biological endowment for language is significantly underdetermined by the evidence from Poverty Arguments. This is demonstrated both as a philosophi-cal point and with a critique of two recent Poverty Arguments. However, we can make significant pro-gress in the future by looking for causal explanations of language knowledge, and not just structural descriptions of that knowledge.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/73218
Rights:Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License
Volume:2007
Appears in Collections: Working Papers in Linguistics - 2007


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