On the acquisition of syntax: A critique of "contextual generalization"

Thomas G Bever, J. A. Fodor, W. Weksel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

It has been recently suggested that the child's assimilation of the syntax of simple sentences can be attributed to a process of "contextual generalization" (see 38:1968) whereby information about the ordinal position of words and phrases is transferred from sentences the child has observed to new sentences. The theoretical and experimental bases for this claim are examined in the present paper. It is argued that such a process could not, in principle, account for what children learn about the structure of or relations between the sentences of their language. It is further argued that the experiments which purportedly demonstrate the existence of contextual generalization are, in fact, equivocal. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-482
Number of pages16
JournalPsychological Review
Volume72
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1965
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • CHILDHOOD
  • GENERALIZATION/STIMULUS, LANGUAGE LEARNING IN CHILDREN, SYNTAX & CONTEXT
  • LANGUAGE, LEARNING IN CHILDREN, CONTEXTUAL GENERALIZATION & SYNTAX

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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