child language acquisition; notion of ‘skeptical linguistics’

Re Goron H’s recent comments on these themes:

I agree that it is not clear that (as Chomskyans claim) children learn their first languages ‘quickly and easily’ (except by comparison with most aduilts learning a second language). But surely it is not clear that they learn them slowly and with difficulty either. As Geoff Sampson points out somewhere (in agreeing with Goran & me on the initial point), we have no basis for comparison, i.e. we know of no other language-using species who might acquire their (similar?) languages more or less readily than Homo sapiens does. Given this fact, the only way to arrive at such judgments with confidence would be to show that there are clear reasons (psychological, etc) why humans should not learn their first languages as quickly and easily as they actually do, and that the facts on this front are thus genuinely surprising. I do not think that this has been achieved. Essentially, the Chomskyan view of this appears to be merely part of that only-partly-rational belief system.

I myself seem to have coined the term ‘skeptical linguistics’, but in any case it could NOT usefully be used to include Chomskyan linguistics or any other kind of linguistics deemed dubious or worse. If Chomskyan linguistics really is as ‘bad’ as Goran holds (and I obviously accept that it has many basic faults), it should perhaps be classified as ‘fringe’ linguistics, ‘nonsense linguistics’, or similar. This is not skeptical linguistics but the kind of material which skeptical linguistics CRITIQUES. See Chapter 12 of my book for mainstream and non-mainstream critiques of mainstream linguistics (including a summary of some of Goran’s own cogent mainstream critiques of Chomskyan linguistics).

Mark N

2 Responses to child language acquisition; notion of ‘skeptical linguistics’

  1. Russian Skeptic says:

    Please, do the tags. You stopped adding tags once, and it’s impossible to find any of you previous posts on the subject!

  2. marknewbrook says:

    Thanks, but I don’t understand this comment. What do you mean by ‘tags’ here? And this was the first of a NEW set of ‘mini-blogs’; anyone who was following my blogs & comments on them would be aware of how this material related to earlier material. No-one else has complained. But am I missing something? Mark

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: