not received much attention in previous research on this topic. The child's clear differentiation between language and gesture in ontogeny suggests that distinct forms of knowledge govern their use. Indeed, young deaf infants' differentiation of language and gesture--even though both reside in the same modality--provides dramatic support for this analysis.
My claim, then, is that aspects of the structural and conceptual underpinnings of children's knowledge and use of language are fundamentally distinct from their knowledge and use of gesture. Knowledge of language is not wholly derived from a general cognitive capacity to symbolize. Instead, the findings from this and related studies compel us to conclude that domain-specific knowledge is involved in the human language acquisition process. Specifically linguistic and conceptual constraints are at work from birth to help the child discover particular structures in the input and not others.
I am especially grateful to Kevin N. Dunbar for discussing the issues in this chapter with me and for his insightful comments on earlier drafts of the chapter. I also thank Marta Meana, Paul Bloom, and Susan Goldin- Meadow for comments on an earlier version of this work. This research was supported by Natural Sciences Engineering Research Council of Canada, McGill IBM Cooperative Project, and McDonnell-Pew Center Grant in Cognitive Neuroscience.
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Publication information: Book title: Modularity and Constraints in Language and Cognition. Contributors: Megan R. Gunnar - Editor, Michael Maratsos - Editor. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Hillsdale, NJ. Publication year: 1992. Page number: 55.