Monday, November 14, 2011

Linguistic Nativism and the Poverty of the Stimulus

Alex Clark & Shalom Lappin critique the Argument from the Poverty of Stimulus (APS) in this new book from Wiley-Blackwell.

This is certainly not the first attack on the bedrock of TG and its decsendants, and I fear not the last, but having read the first few chapters, I feel that it is taking the argument to formal, generative linguists by using just the arguments that they would understand.

With Pullum & Sholtz (see here and here) working hard to discredit the theory, Tomasello working full out to empirically disprove the hypothesis (see examples here and here and his homepage), and Luc Steels (see his homepage) demonstrating that you do not need any kind of hard-wiring for language to evolve, not to mention theories of embodiment, emergentism, and evidence from autopoiesis, you would think that the APS would be a thing of the past. I expect that there are too many people (and research grants) dependent on this hypothesis so we cannot expect it to disappear too soon.

Review for LinguistList on its way, and there is a GoogleBooks entry.  Serendipitously, Prof. Pullum of Edinburgh University recently posted yet another refutation of most of Chomsky's arguments to Linguistlist after the MIT professor delivered a lecture at University College, London.  Meanwhile, here are a few pages from Clark & Lappin, courtesy of the publisher's page. (To read these pages, click on an image, and then right click to open the image in a new page/tab. Then it can be magnified to a suitable size.)

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