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17:30 - 19:15 6 May 2015

Language acquisition: the usage-based challenge to linguistic nativism


Room 828 | UCL Institute of Education (link Map)
20 Bedford Way | London | WC1H 0AL | United Kingdom

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Admission: Free
Ticketing: Open

Speaker information

Dr Mark Cain, Oxford Brookes University

For many years the idea that language acquisition depends upon the possession of a rich body of innate language specific knowledge – an idea associated with Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker – has dominated linguistics and cognitive science. However, in recent years an exciting alternative vision has emerged. This is the Usage-Based Theory championed by Michael Tomasello according to which language is learned incrementally by means of the employment of domain-general pattern recognition and mind reading skills. In this talk Dr Mark Cain will survey the debate between linguistic nativism and the Usage-Based Theory. He will argue that although the Usage-Based theory ought to be taken seriously it is confronted by a poverty of the stimulus argument related to that which has traditionally been invoked to motivate linguistic nativism.


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