Date: Sat, 23 Sep 1995 18:51:58 EDT

From: Terry Lynn Irons t.irons[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MOREHEAD-ST.EDU

Subject: Re: One more judgment please

These sentences are all prototypical of strings that have been the

basis for recent concerns in GB or PP or whatever you call it, which

support the various government and binding principles. Reminds me

of the Specified Subject Constraint argument that Chomsky used to

try to prove Piaget's view of how language is acquired is wrong in the

famous debate.

My response is, I am not going to be a test subject for your test, unless

you tell me what your purpose is. It's the informed consent thing,

which my institution's IRB is giving me a lot of crap about, even

though I point out to them that US Code regulations exempt this kind

of survey/interview from regulation. But that's another battle.

Some of them I think are not anything someone would utter. The

acquisition question is, what is the source of the language knowledge

that leads the language learner to conclude that these sentences are

ungrammatical. Certainly, there is no evidence in the environment

or stimulus. Thus we have the poverty of stimulus argument. SO

we must posit some innate principles.

Wrong question. The acquisition problem is not one of why a learner

does not do something, but one of what motivates

the learner to do what she does. The learner would never produce

these utterances because no one uses them. That simple. Has nothing

to do with a biological endowment ruling them out.

I am not ruling out a biological organ for language, an LAD.

I am only questioning what Chomsky thinks is part of it.

For all of his insights, he is wrong on this point.


PS: I think Dan Slobin agrees.



Terry Lynn Irons t.irons[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

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