18. Oktober 2022
Charles Reiss (Concordia University, Dept. of Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics)
"Epistemic Boundedness, Poverty of the Stimulus, Amodal Completion, and Wugs"
Abstract: The Argument from the Poverty of the Stimulus (APoS) is typically discussed with respect to syntactic phenomena like AUX-inversion: Is the man who is tall happy? In the phonology literature APoS tends to either be ignored or else denied, e.g. "there is no poverty of the stimulus argument in phonology" (Carr 2006) and "there is little evidence of a learnability problem in phonology'' (Mielke 2008). I argue that APoS is as relevant in phonology as in syntax, and that strong nativism should, in fact, be the null hypothesis, given basic observations from perception, phonetics and phonology. I relate the APoS to what Fodor (1980) called "epistemic boundedness" and Chomsky's (1980) point that "there is an inseparable connection between the scope and limits of human knowledge." I'll use the familiar English plural pattern to show how rule interactions support APoS and relate the argument to "amodal completion" in perception. The talk is appropriate for linguists, as well as psychologists and philosophers interested in linguistics.