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COMMENTS ON THE PAPER BY BROWN AND FRASER
Charles N. Cofer NEW YORK UNIVERSITYIn commenting on Brown and Fraser's paper, the first thing I want
to say is that their material bears very directly on one of the central
issues argued during the first conference. This was a complex issue,
and I will try to formulate its several aspects before going on to sketch
the relations to it of the observations reported by Brown and Fraser.The issue was discussed at several points in the first conference,
but it arose with its greatest force in conjunction with the discussion
of Goss's paper ( 1961). In this paper, Goss applied his analysis of the
acquisition and use of conceptual schemes to a child's act of writing
something and suggested that verbal mediating responses might govern
the form and the inflection of the sequence of words the child writes.
For example, the child might say to himself, Goss suggested, that a sentence should have a subject, verb, object, preposition, object (or noun,
verb, noun, preposition, noun) and use this scheme as he constructs the
sentence, checking back against the scheme after the sentence is completed. There were several lines of attack on this notion:
|a. One indicated that verbal labeling of this sort probably occurs
but seldom, and in many cases, cannot occur because labels or rules
cannot be formulated by the child or by adults that govern their choices.|
|b. It was further stressed, however, that choices of inflected forms
are often correct, despite the absence of such verbalized knowledge
and despite the novelty of the words that are so inflected.|
|c. The rapidity with which the inflected words can be transferred
correctly to other linguistic environments requiring different inflections,
occurring in many instances after a single experience, makes the applicability of simple principles of word association and of associative learning dubious.|