Brass Tacks in Linguistic Theory
Stephen Crain, Andrea Gualmini and Paul Pietroski
University of Maryland
and
Rosalind Thornton
Gennaro Chierchia
Luisa Meroni
Teresa Guasti
Graciela Tesan
The Challenge
“Certainly, humans are endowed with some sort of predisposition
toward language learning. The substantive issue is whether a full
description of that predisposition incorporates anything that entails
specific contingent facts about natural languages.” [our emphasis]
“We question whether children learn what transformationalgenerative syntacticians think they learn.”
(Pullum and Scholz 2002, TLR)
Specific Contingent Facts about Natural Languages
1. The ‘basic’ meaning of disjunction is inclusive-or
2. The meanings of natural language Determiners are ‘conservative’
3. The same structural notion (‘c-command’) ties together
disparate linguistic phenomena:
• Licensing negative polarity items
• Generating the ‘conjunctive’ reading of disjunction
• Disjoint reference between pronouns and names
…
Poverty of Stimulus Arguments
1. the linguistic knowledge children achieve,
and the course of acquisition
2. the linguistic input children receive
3. the nonlinguistic capacities of children
Nativists point to the disparity between (1) and (2), even given
optimistic assumptions abut (3), so long as this consists of
‘domain general’ capacities to extract information and to form
generalizations based on experience
Poverty of Stimulus Arguments
1. the linguistic knowledge children achieve,
and the course of acquisition
2. the linguistic input children receive
3. the nonlinguistic capacities of children
Nativists point to the disparity between (1) and (2), even given
optimistic assumptions abut (3).
Three kinds of poverty-of-stimulus arguments are offered
Poverty of Stimulus Argument I
First, children project beyond their experience in ways that
the input does not even suggest: children learn partial
linguistic generalizations.
A constraint on interpretation:
(a) * He said that the Troll jumped the best
(b) The Troll said that he jumped the best.
(c) When he was jumping, the Troll ate sushi.
not the usual induction problem
Nativism is NOTestablished by the fact that children generalize:
“ … projecting beyond experience is just one aspect of
language acquisition. Children also fail to project beyond
their experience in characteristic ways. It is this fact that most
impresses nativists. The theoretical problem posed by human
language learning is to explain why children project beyond
their experience just so far and no further; the specific "angle"
of projection seems arbitrary (and idiosyncratic to linguistic
projection).”
Crain and Peitroski (2001)
Poverty of Stimulus Argument II
Second: children project beyond their experience in ways that
the input does not even suggest. For example, some
English-speaking children produce constructions that are
not attested in the local language, but are found in other
languages.
The detailed patterns of children’s productions is difficult to
explain using domain general capacities to form
generalizations. By contrast, the patterns of children’s
productions are consistent with the Continuity Assumption.
The continuity Assumption
“All principles and constructs of universal grammar are
available at the outset and all child grammars will be
‘possible human grammars’, in the sense of falling within
the patterns of adult grammars (either observed or
permitted under the theory). The child’s grammar may,
however, deviate from that of the language he will
ultimately acquire.”
(Goodluck 1991)
Child language can differ from the language of adults in the
same linguistic community, but only in ways that adult
languages can differ from each other.
(Crain 1990)
…versus input matching
“... speakers acquire schemas or templates through
exposure to actually-occurring expressions, and use those
schemas to sanction new expressions.” (van Hoek 1995)
“…perhaps the mental grammar actually consists of positive
CONSTRUCTS that license sentences, perhaps ample positive
evidence is available, and perhaps positive evidence can
support learning. If so, then the negative evidence hallmark
is irrelevant to questions about innateness ... “
(Rosen and Rosen 1994)
“such an approach relies on there being a strong relationship
between the nature of the lexically-specific patterns in the
child's speech and the frequency with which such patterns
occur in the child's input.” (Rowland and Pine 2000)
Medial Wh-questions in child English
Children project beyond their experience in ways that
the input does not even suggest. For example, some
English-speaking children insert a ‘extra’ copy of a whword in certain Wh-questions, but not in others.
Who do you think who that is?
What do you think what is in the box?
The detailed pattern of the questions children do and do not
ask is difficult to explain on an experience-dependent
account of language development.
A Trace of Germanic in Child English
Weri glaubst du weri nach Hause geht?
‘Who do you think who goes home?’
*Wessen Buchi glaubst du wessen Buchi Hans liest?
‘Whose book do you think whose book Hans is reading?’
#Which Smurf do you think which Smurf is wearing roller skates?
Cf. Which Smurf do you think is wearing roller skates?
Wen versucht Hans anzurufen?
‘Whom is Hans trying to call?’
#Who is Hans trying who to call?
# Who do you want WHO to brush your hair?
QuickTime™ and a
Sorenson Video decompress or
are needed to see this picture.
Poverty of Stimulus Argument III
Third, children form ‘deep’ generalizations -- which tie facts
together which could not be related by relying “entirely on
generalization from experience by the ordinary methods that are
used for learning other (nonlinguistic) things from experience”
(Pullum and Scholtz 2002)
1. children know how to interpret statements with
disjunction (e.g., ‘not A or B’; ‘Every A or B’…)
2. and children know the conditions that license expressions like
‘any’ and ‘ever’ (so-called Negative Polarity Items NPIs)
3. and children know when a pronoun and a name must have
disjoint reference
Linguistic theory suggests that these phenomena (and others)
are governed by the same linguistic principles
Disjunction
The meaning of ‘or’ is twofaced:
POSITIVE: Snow-white will find the apple or the banana.
Snow-white will find the apple or Snow-white will find the banana.
This sentence is true in circumstances associated with ‘exclusive-or’
NEGATIVE: Snow-white will not find the apple or the banana
Snow-white will never find the apple and Snow-white will never find
the banana
This sentence has the ‘conjunctive’ interpretation of ‘or’
Disjunction
• The conjunctive interpretation of or is derived only if it is
assigned the truth conditions associated with inclusive-or
• The input to children is almost entirely consistent with exclusiveor being the basic meaning of disjunction (see Appendix)
• In limited positive contexts, or-statements may be understood as
inclusive-or:
E.g., situations of uncertainty (making a prediction or a bet)
More on Disjunction:
De Morgan’s Laws
Across natural languages, negative statements with disjunction give
rise to inferences that closely resemble the equivalences expressed by
De Morgan’s Laws (Boster and Crain, 1993; Partee, ter Meulen and
Wall, 1993).
(PQ)  (PQ)
(PQ)  (P  Q)
More Generally: Downward Entailment
a. Children left before we served zucchini or broccoli
 Children left before we served zucchini
and children left before we served broccoli.
b. Every child who likes zucchini or broccoli will eat soup
 Every child who likes zucchini will eat soup
and every child who likes broccoli will eat soup.
c. None of the children ate zucchini or broccoli
 None of the children ate zucchini
and none of the children ate broccoli.
Minimal Pairs: Interpreting Disjunction
Every linguist or philosopher admires Chomsky.
Every psychologist admires Chomsky or Halle.
If a linguist or a philosopher goes to the gym, Geoff goes swimming.
If a linguist goes to the gym, Geoff goes swimming or golfing.
Geoff usually arrives at the gym before linguists or philosophers.
Geoff usually arrives at the gym after linguists or philosophers.
Geoff went to work without the car or the bike.
Geoff went to work with the car or the bike.
Same Minimal Pairs - Licensing NPIs
Every psychologist who read any linguistics book admires Chomsky.
*Every psychologist admires any philosopher.
If any linguist goes to the gym, Geoff goes swimming.
*If a linguist goes swimming, Geoff goes to any gym.
Geoff usually arrives at the gym before any linguist.
*Geoff usually arrives at the gym after any linguist.
Geoff went to work without any means of transportation.
*Geoff went to work with any means of transportation.
Descriptive Generalization
Linguistic environments that permit “any” also
yield the conjunctive interpretation of “or”
Every linguist or philosopher admires Chomsky.
Every psychologist who read any linguistics book admires Chomsky.
Linguistic environments that permit do not “any”
yield the exclusive-or interpretation
Every psychologist admires Chomsky or Halle.
*Every psychologist admires any philosopher.
A Deeper Generalization
Downward Entailing expressions permit “any” and
yield the conjunctive interpretation of “or.” So,
De Morgan’s Law is just the tip of the iceberg:
OPDE [A or B]  [OPDE A] and [OPDE B]
Do children know this, despite overwhelming
evidence in the input -- that disjunction is
exclusive-or?
Piecemeal Learning (cf. Pullum and Scholz 2002)
The news that Noam had not won was a surprise to some/*any of the linguists.
The news that Noam had won was not a surprise to some/any of the linguists.
fact 1
a) … not+V+V+NP+P+some
b) …V+not+NP+P+some/any
The bear who never laughed expected to find some/*any dogs at the party.
The bear who laughed never expected to find any dogs at the party.
fact 2
a) … never+V+ V+to+V+some
b) … V+never+V+to+V+some/any
 But, what do fact 1 and fact 2 (and so forth) have in common?
 And what do these facts have in common with the interpretation of
disjunction?
QuickTime™ and a
DV - NTSC decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Specific Contingent Facts about Natural Languages
1. The ‘basic’ meaning of disjunction is inclusive-or
Still to come:
2. The meanings of natural language Determiners are ‘conservative’
3. The same structural notion (‘c-command’) ties together
disparate linguistic phenomena:
• Licensing negative polarity items
• Generating the ‘conjunctive’ reading of disjunction
• Disjoint reference between pronouns and names
…
Universal Quantification
The universal quantifier, every, is a Determiner.
In natural languages, Determiner meanings are ‘conservative,’
(e.g., Barwise and Cooper 1981; Chierchia and McConnel-Ginet 2000)
However, the findings of research on child language -- going
back to Inhelder and Piaget -- have led many to conclude that:
• some children adopt a non-adult and non-conservative
interpretation of the universal quantifier
Answer this Question
Is every boy riding an elephant?
The Symmetrical Response
No, not this one!
Is every boy riding an elephant?
The Event Quantification Account
Every boy is riding an elephant
Truth Conditions:
Every NP[boy]
VP[boy-is-riding-an-elephant] and
Every NP[elephant] VP[boy-is-riding an elephant]
Analysis:
Everye
NP[
boye or elephante ] VP[ boy-is-riding-an-elephante ]
‘every event in which there is a boy or an elephant
is one in which the boy is riding the elephant’
Conservativity: A Linguistic Universal
A determiner meaning is conservative iff:
(DET NP)(VP)  (DET NP)(NP  VP)
where DET is a two-place relation, with an
internal argument = NP, and an external argument = VP
The intuition: Every boy is riding an elephant is TRUE iff
every boy is a subset of boys who are riding an elephant
• Its truth can be decided without necessarily looking at
every elephant in the domain of discourse
Conservativity
Conservativity of determiner meanings make these inferences valid:
(DET NP)(VP)  (DET NP)(NP  VP)
Few Americans smoke  Few Americans are Americans who smoke
Every Italian eats pasta  Every Italian is an Italian who eats pasta
No German drinks Bud  No German is a German who drinks Bud
…
The Event Quantification account
Philip (1995), cf. Drozd and van Loosbroek (1998, 2000)
Every boy is riding an elephant
Every NP[boy or elephant] VP[boy-is-riding-an-elephant]
• This analysis of every violates conservativity, because it blurs
the distinction between the internal and the external argument
• On this analysis, it is necessary to check every elephant to see that the boys and the elephants are equinumerous.
• If all natural language Determiners are conservative, there
cannot be a Determiner that means ‘equinumerous’
So, why else might children think there is a ‘missing’ boy?
“… children try to understand what people mean, not only
what words mean” (Freeman et al, 1982; p. 69).
“When a speaker asks a question about the presence of ‘all the Xs’,
he is implicitly requesting the hearer to carry out an exhaustive
search to check that no X is missing. Asking someone such a
question is only legitimate ‘socio-dialogically’ if there is at least
the possibility that some X is (or some Xs are) in actuality missing.”
(Freeman et al., 1982; p. 64)
Satisfy Felicity Conditions
One way is by providing a different possible outcome.
Adults are happy if there is an additional object that
participants could have chosen.
QuickTime™ and a
DV - NTSC decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Specific Contingent Facts about Natural Languages
1. The ‘basic’ meaning of disjunction is inclusive-or
2. Natural language Determiners are ‘conservative’
Still to come:
3. The same structural notion (‘c-command’) ties together
disparate linguistic phenomena:
• Licensing negative polarity items
• Generating the ‘conjunctive’ reading of disjunction
• Disjoint reference between pronouns and names
…
Structure also Matters
1. For “any” to be permitted, it must be c-commanded by a downward
entailing expression
2. For “or” to receive the conjunctive interpretation, it must be
c-commanded by a downward entailing expression
3. If a pronoun c-commands a name, they must have disjoint reference
The operative structural relation in all these cases is “c-command”
C-command
- NPI licensing
- Interpreting Disjunction
OP DE
NPI
Or -conjunctive
C-command
- NPI licensing
- Interpreting Disjunction
- Disjoint Reference
OP DE
Pronouni
NPI
Or -conjunctive
Namej ≠ i
No C-command
DO NOT
TRESPASS
- No NPI licensing
- Change in Interpreting Disjunction
OP DE
*NPI
Or – ‘exclusive’
No C-command
DO NOT
TRESPASS
- No NPI licensing
- Change in Interpreting Disjunction
- Coreference is possible
OP DE
Pronouni
*NPI
Or – ‘exclusive’
Namei
Children’s knowledge of c-command
Test sentences:
1. “The girl that stayed up late did not get a dime or a jewel”
2. “The girl that didn’t go to sleep got a dime or a jewel”
1. = the conjunctive-or reading
2. = the exclusive-or reading is preferred
A Typical Story
This is a story about two girls who lost their teeth.
“Well, I know I should go to sleep, but I really want to see
what the Tooth-Fairy looks like, so I am gonna stay up.”
The Tooth-Fairy arrives! “Ok, I have some dimes and some
jewels for good children who have lost their teeth!”
Merlin: “The girl that stayed up late will not get a dime or a jewel”
Merlin: “The girl that didn’t go to sleep will get a dime or a jewel”
“This girl is asleep. I’ll give her a dime. Here’s a jewel too”
“Why are you awake? You know you are supposed to be asleep!”
“I know, I know! But I wanted to see what you look like.
But, I lost a big tooth. You have to give me something!”
“Ok, ok, I’ll give you a jewel”
Merlin: “I said the girl that stayed up late would not get a dime or a jewel”
Merlin: “I said the girl that didn’t go to sleep would get a dime or a jewel”
30 children (age from 3;11 to 5;9 – mean 5;0) participated in the
both conditions of the experiment. Each subject was presented
with two trials in each condition. First condition:
Merlin: “I said the girl that stayed up late would not get a dime or
a jewel.” Children rejected this statement 90% of the time.
The same children also had two trials in the second condition.
Merlin: “I said that the girl that didn’t go to sleep would get a
dime or a jewel.”
The child subjects accepted this statement 87% of the time.
Summary: Specific Contingent Facts
1. The ‘basic’ meaning of disjunction is inclusive-or
2. Natural language Determiners are ‘conservative’
3. The same structural notion of ‘c-command’ ties together
several apparently disparate linguistic phenomena:
• Licensing negative polarity items
• Generating the ‘conjunctive’ reading of disjunction
• Disjoint reference between pronouns and names
…
QuickTime™ and a
Sorenson Video decompress or
are needed to see this picture.
Descargar

Document