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Parameters of Logic

Time:2017-05-25 14:48:54


Title: Parameters of Logic


Speaker: Stephen Crain, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD), and a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University, Australia


Abstract: This talk will make a few general observations about the parameters of logic, and will report the findings of some representative experimental studies. Different values of the parameters of logic yield different scope assignments for sentences that contain combinations of logical words. The parameters of logic predict the circumstances in which children and adults judge these sentences to be True or False. Initially children make the same scope assignments, regardless of the scope assignments made by adult speakers of the local language. In one class of languages, therefore, children and adults judge sentences to be true in different circumstances. It is implausible to suppose that children learn the initial value of the parameters based on input from adults. We report the findings from cross-linguistic investigations of the parameters of logic, including studies of children acquiring Mandarin. Taken together, the findings resist explanation on accounts of scope assignments that are based on (a) parsing principles (b) linear order, or (c) adult input. The findings are taken as evidence for a biolinguistic approach to language acquisition.


Location:Rm116, WenNan Building, Tsinghua University


Time:May  25, 2-4 pm, 2017

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