Modularity and Constraints in Language and Cognition

By Megan R. Gunnar; Michael Maratsos | Go to book overview

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.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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.


REFERENCES

Acredolo L. P., & Goodwyn S. W. ( 1985). "Symbolic gesturing in language development: A case study". Human Development, 28, 40-49.

Acredolo L. P., & Goodwyn S. W. ( 1988). "Symbolic gesturing in normal infants". Child Development, 59, 450-466.

Acredolo L. P., & Goodwyn S. W. ( 1990). "Sign language in babies: The significance of symbolic gesturing for understanding language development". Annals of Child Development, 7, 1-42.

Bates E., Benigni L. F., Bretherton I., Camaioni L., & Volterra V. ( 1979). The emergence of symbols: Cognition and communication in infancy. New York: Academic Press.

Bates E., Bretherton I., Shore C., & McNew S. ( 1983). "Names gestures and objects: Symbolization in infancy and aphasia". In K. Nelson (Ed.), Children's language (Vol. 4). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bellugi U., Klima E. ( 1982). "The acquisition of three morphological systems in American Sign Language". Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, 21, 1-35. Stanford, CA: Stanford University.

Bloom L. ( 1973). One word at a time. The Hague: Mouton.

Bonvillian J. D., Orlansky M. D., & Novack L. L. ( 1983). "Developmental milestones: Signlanguage acquisition and motor development"

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Modularity and Constraints in Language and Cognition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Constraints, Modules, and Domain Specificity: An Introduction 1
  • References 23
  • 2 - Modularity and Constraints in Early Lexical Acquisition: Evidence from Children's Early Language and Gesture 25
  • References 55
  • 3 - Constraints on Word Learning: Speculations About Their Nature, Origins, and Domain Specificity 59
  • Acknowledgments 95
  • References 96
  • 4 - The Origins of an Autonomous Biology 103
  • Acknowledgments 135
  • Acknowledgments 135
  • 5 - Language, Affect, and Social Order 139
  • Appendix 172
  • Acknowledgments 176
  • References 176
  • 6 - The Logical and Extrinsic Sources of Modularity 179
  • References 209
  • 7 - Beyond Modules 213
  • 8 - What Do Developmental Psychologists Really Want? 221
  • References 231
  • Author Index 233
  • Subject Index 239
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