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Language acquisition and the argument from the poverty of the stimulus

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Language acquisition and the argument from the poverty of the stimulus

Zohari, Parissa (2004) Language acquisition and the argument from the poverty of the stimulus. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis represents an attempt to illustrate the significance of two fundamental concepts related to first language acquisition (FLA): (1) The primary linguistic data (the PLD), and, (2) The argument from the poverty of the stimulus (POS). The central claim is that the notion of the PLD and the POS argument, which have traditionally been presented as distinct, are intimately related. The PLD is viewed as the external basis for FLA as well as the POS Argument. This thesis proposes a new, tri-level definition for the (linguistic data: (a) The available linguistic data (ALD), (b) The received [by the acquirer's brain] linguistic data (RLD), and, (c) The perceived linguistic data (PLD). In addition, three issues related to the POS concept are discussed: Innateness, Negative Evidence, and the POS argument. Chomsky proposed the POS concept as evidence that FLA cannot occur in the absence of innate language universals. The idea was that people attain knowledge of their language despite the impoverished linguistic data. This thesis explores Geoffrey Pullum and Barbara Scholz's (2002) recent challenges to the POS argument which attempt to undermine the nativist view of FLA. Two POS exemplars studied and rejected by Pullum and Scholz are reexamined here. This thesis concludes that the claims made by Pullum and Scholz lack scientific evidence and, hence, the POS Argument still remains unchallenged. This thesis also suggests that the next crucial step in language acquisition research is to explore second language acquisition (SLA) and its relation to language universals.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Zohari, Parissa
Pagination:vii, 78 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:School of Graduate Studies
Date:2004
Thesis Supervisor(s):Hale, Mark Robert
ID Code:8088
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:15
Last Modified:18 Aug 2011 14:15
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