Language Development: Syntax and Semantics - Vol. 1

Language Development: Syntax and Semantics - Vol. 1

Language Development: Syntax and Semantics - Vol. 1

Language Development: Syntax and Semantics - Vol. 1

Excerpt

There is almost no scientific theory which was held to be fundamental in 1867 which is thought to be true in that form today.

(Bronowski, 1978, p. 56)

Science is not quite the objective enterprise envisioned by most laymen and popularized by many B-movies. To the contrary, science is a largely subjective enterprise subjected to the biases of its participants (i.e., scientists). This is not to say that scientists are intentionally non-objective in their formation of hypotheses and interpretation of data. Nonetheless, their unconscious biases may color their interpretation of data (and perhaps even the data themselves, see Rosenthal, 1966). One of the factors which contributes most to a biased interpretation of data is theoretical stance. It is not always the case that believers in a theory objectively interpret data relevant to the theory (Kuhn, 1962). If the data contradict predictions made by the theory, believers in the theory need not abandon the theory as an incorrect guess. Instead they may attack the data, so that by putting the data into question, it no longer becomes necessary to abandon the theory, since the data which cast the theory into doubt are themselves cast into doubt. Or, advocates of a theory might attempt to interpret the data such that it accords with the theory. Thus, the simple collection of data will not necessarily resolve theoretical disputes, given the typical unwillingness of theorists to abandon their views in the face of bothersome data.

The study of language acquisition is a science, albeit a relatively young one. As such, it possesses a number of important questions which direct research in the field. However, given that developmental psycholinguists are scientists and . . .

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