chomsky1 by prof. nazir malik
Post on 19-May-2015
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- 1. Chomsky s Innatism
2. Behaviourist position (Skinner, 1950s)
- Main behaviourist claim:alllearning, including language learning, is the product of habit formation.
- We learn through imitation and repetition.
- Emphasis on the importance of the observable in any theory claiming to be scientific (empirical view).
- Since only behaviour is observable, we must study learning by observing behaviour patterns.
3. Behaviourist position
- We learn through:
- Imitation + reinforcement (praise or success in communication) =habit formation .
- According to this view Stimulus-Response-Reinforcement IS the learning mechanism.
- Language is considered verbal behaviour .
- Children practise and repeat what they hear, and in this way learn their L1.
4. Who is Chomsky?
- You ve probably heard of him already
- Noam Chomsky, 1928-present, American
- Professor in Linguistics at MIT
- (more famous outside our field as a political commentator)
- Chomsky is asyntactician
- His work on syntax led him to believe language isinnate
- Chomsky is a theorist, not an experimenter
- But others have applied his theories
5. What is Chomsky s theory?
- Nature over Nurture
- According to Chomsky, crucial parts of the human language ability are built into the brainpart of our biology, programmed into our genes
6. Chomsky V Skinner
- Remember Skinner?
- Late 1950s: environment-only theories of language acquisition in the ascendant
- Chomsky (1959) reviewed Skinner s bookVerbal Behaviour
- Chomsky found flaws in Skinner s mechanism
- Chomsky argued that environment-only mechanisms couldn t possibly account for language acquisition
7. Evidence for Chomskyan innatism (and against environment-only mechanisms) How so? 8. The brain: missing evidence?
- Neuroscience could be convincing
- but our knowledge of the brain is not that advanced.
- We cannot see the proposed language structures
- Even if we could, we could not establish that these structures were innate
- Language is CREATIVE
- We can produce and understand an infinite range of novel grammatical sentences
- Children do not imitate a fixed repertoire of sentences
- Chomsky: creativity is not explicable if language is learnt just from the environment
10. Degeneracy of the data
- The child s language data is degenerate
- Ungrammatical utterances are frequent and are not marked out as wrong
- Therefore it is impossible to deduce the grammar of a language, if your only input data is utterances from the environment
11. Poverty of the stimulus
- Chomskyan syntax: more complex than people had previously thought syntax to be!
- The grammar of a sentence can t be deduced from its surface form
- The schoolchildren were difficult to teach
- The schoolchildren were eager to learn
- So environmental language data is insufficient: grammar can t be learned from it
12. Misleading feedback
- Adults correct children for truth, not grammaticality
- so the feedback data children receive does not actually tell them how well they are doing
- Misleading feedback makes it even harder for children to learn grammar
13. Evidence from Creoles
- Pidgin: simple language that arise in contact situations
- Creole: a fully complex language descended from a pidgin
- The grammar of a Creole is created by children as they learn it
- This is evidence that this grammar comes from some innate source
14. Universal features of language
- Languages vary greatly, but have some common features
- Example: nouns and verbs
- Example: structure dependency
- Grammatical rules rely on thestructureof the sentence, not the surface order of the words
15. Structure dependency
- Mr Smith was a good man
- Was Mr Smith a good man?
- Mr Smith was a good man
- Man good a was Smith Mr?
- Joe was a good man
- A Joe was good man?
16. Universals explained
- Universals unexpected if language is learnt from the environment alone
- Universals due to innate language
- Or due to something else?
- Universalfunctionsof language
- Universalforms of cognition
17. The theory:innate language knowledge
- If children don t/can t learn the rules of grammar from the language around them in their environment
- then these rules must have been in-born
- This explains all the difficulties we found with environment-only acquisition theories
18. Key points of Chomskyan TheoryThe Essentials 19. Innatism
- What is innate?
- Chomsky: the essential core of grammar is innate
- A generative grammar that can produce an infinite range of novel sentences
- The innate system for language learning
- Language Acquisition Device (LAD)
- Universal Grammar (UG)
- language organ
- language instinct
20. Inside the Chomskyan brain Autonomy 21. Is language autonomous?
- Chomsky thinks that language is autonomous in the mind
- This means that language (i.e. UG) is a separate system in the brain s architecture
- It is connected to, but does not interact extensively with, other sorts of thought
22. (The diagram) 23. Maturation
- Chomsky s theory is amaturationisttheory
- Language acquisition runs to an innate biological timetable
- UG matures in the brain and is slowly released in predetermined stages as the child grows
- Thislinguisticmaturation is analogous to thesexualmaturation we go through at puberty
- and is just as involuntary!
- Only the younger ones were at the right stage of maturation
24. Language is species-specific
- UG and the language system only occur in thehumanbrain
- Therefore, no other animals can acquire a human language
- But is this solely due to their lesser intelligence?
- Can chimps learn language? We ll look at this next term!
- How did UG get there in the first place?
- There is much disagreement on this
- Chomsky: not by natural selection!
- Chomsky, Bickerton: a single lucky language mutation (a Hopeful Monster )
- Pinker: by normal natural selection
26. Universal Grammar
- But what exactly is Universal Grammar?
- What knowledge does it contain?
- How does it function in the process of language acquisition?
we ll try to find out next time