What is Language Development?: Rationalist, Empiricist, and Pragmatist approaches to the…

Paperback | December 16, 2004

byJames Russell

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Language development is one of the major battle grounds within the humanities and sciences. This is the first time that the three major theories in language development research have been fully described and compared within the covers of a single book. The three approaches: (1) The rationalismof Chomsky and the syntactic nativism that it entails; (2) The empiricism instinct in connectionist modelling of syntactic development; (3) The pragmatism of those who see the child as actively 'constructing' a grammatical 'inventory' piece-by-piece through recruiting general learning abilities andsocio-cognitive knowledge. The book is unique in striking a balance between broad philosophical assessment of these three theories and fine-grain, fairly technical, accounts of how they fare at the empirical and linguistic 'coal faces'. In Part 1, the kind of psychology to which rationalism, empiricism, and pragmatism give rise are described with reference to philosophers such as Fodor, Hume, and the American pragmatists from Peirce, to Rorty and Brandom. After an introduction to the syntactic analysis of the sentence, Part 2continues with an account of the evolution of Chomskyan theory from its inception to the present day, followed by a review of developmental research inspired by it. Part 3 takes a sceptical look at connectionist modelling of syntactic development. Part 4 describes the kind of linguistic theoriesthat the socio-cognitive approach finds sympathetic, reviewing its empirical progress (e.g. the work of Tomasello), ending with a comparison of how the generativists and functionalists tackle the evolution of syntax. Clearly and accessibly written, the book will be an important text for developmental psychologists, linguists, and philosophers working on language.

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Language development is one of the major battle grounds within the humanities and sciences. This is the first time that the three major theories in language development research have been fully described and compared within the covers of a single book. The three approaches: (1) The rationalismof Chomsky and the syntactic nativism that ...

James Russell is a Reader in Cognitive Development, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, UK.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:570 pages, 9.45 × 6.61 × 1.28 inPublished:December 16, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198530862

ISBN - 13:9780198530862

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Table of Contents

Part 1: Three psychologies: Rationalist, empiricist, and pragmatist1.1. Rationalism1.2. Empiricism1.3. Pragmatism1.4. Taking stockPart 2: Syntactic nativism: Language development within rationalism2.1. The 'psychological reality' of the syntactic level of representation: From phrase structures to X-bar grammar2.2. The road to minimalism - transformational grammar2.3. The Minimalist Programme2.4. Assessement for the time being2.5. The question of evidence: Experiments with young children2.6. Evidence for syntactic modularity from atypical development: children with specific learning impairment2.7. Taking stockPart 3: Empiricist connectionism as a theory of language development3.1. Do connectionist representations have 'casual roles'? Two connectionist models of production3.2. Trying to replace competence with statistical regularity: The limits and uses of cue learning3.3. Variables: In thought, language, and in connectionist modelling3.4. The clear utility of associative models - and more on their overreaching3.5. Connectionism and the conceptual-intentional systems3.6. Some new moves in modelling production3.7. Taking stockPart 4: The pragmatist approach to language acquisition4.1. Two functionalist grammars4.2. Are functionalist theories better placed to explain acquisition than generativist ones?4.3. Explaining development: cognitive-functionalist theory and data - past and present4.4. Is semantic knowledge sufficient or only necessary? Semantic bootstrapping versus semantic assimilation4.5. Does an evolutionary perspective reveal the strengths of the pragmatist approach?4.6. Taking stockReferences