LINGUIST List 7.607

Tue Apr 23 1996

Qs: Anaphora, Lang Census Figures, Trilingualism

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  1. "Carsten Breul", Query: learning vs. innateness of binding principle
  2. Larry Foley, Language Census Figures
  3. Jayson Campeau, trilingualism

Message 1: Query: learning vs. innateness of binding principle

Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 13:00:22 -0000
From: "Carsten Breul" <>
Subject: Query: learning vs. innateness of binding principle

Dear all (of Linguist and gb2mp),

in Vivian Cook and Mark Newson's _Chomsky's Universal
Grammar: An Introduction_ (2nd edn., 1996), we find the
following argument in favour of the innateness of the
binding principles:

"Step A is to claim that the native speaker knows that in

 4. Helen said that Jane voted for herself.

Jane binds _herself_ [...].

Step B is to see whether children could have worked this
out from the speech they are likely to have encountered.
Suppose children wrongly understand that _herself_ is bound
by Helen [...]. Nothing would tell the children that they
are wrong; no context could let them unerringly distinguish
the binding of anaphors and of pronominals." (p.84f.)

On the one hand, I am not totally convinced by this
argument. I can well imagine that children learn by
induction and generalization from a number of simple
sentences in proper contexts - like, e.g.

 'Jane combs her' versus 'Jane combs herself' -

that _her_ cannot refer to the Actor of the action of which
_her_ is the Patient, while _herself_ must refer to this
Actor. If we apply this generalization to the example
sentence given by Cook and Newson (see above) - allowing
also Benefactors alongside Patients -, we still get the
correct result: _herself_ must refer to the Actor of the
action of which it is the Benefactor. The fact that the
anaphor is part of an embedded clause and that the matrix
clause also has a feminine subject NP does not interfere
if the 'rule' is derived by induction and stated this way.

On the other hand, I would be totally convinced by Cook
and Newson's argument, if children never made the mistake
of using pronouns instead of anaphors or anaphors instead
of pronouns during language acquisition. This would
indicate, I think, that they do not proceed by induction
and generalization.

Can anyone tell me what the relevant facts of language
acquisition are as regards pronouns and anaphors?

Comments on and discussion of my arguments in general and
especially clarification if I did not get the point of
Cook and Newson's argument, are also welcome.
Carsten Breul
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Message 2: Language Census Figures

Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 07:42:06 MDT
From: Larry Foley <>
Subject: Language Census Figures

I am aware of two sources that give information for total number of
language speakers: Ethnologue and Britannica. I have noticed in some
cases that totals may vary as much as a factor of two or three
between these two sources. What is the validity of these sources?
Are there any more accurate sources?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* Larry Foley, Senior Linguist
* Translation Department
* Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
* 21st Floor
* 50 East North Temple
* Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
* tel: 800-453-3860, ext 2934
* email:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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Message 3: trilingualism

Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 18:06:07 EDT
From: Jayson Campeau <>
Subject: trilingualism

Dear fellow language lovers,

I am very interested in finding out all that I can relating to
trilingualism. We have 2 1/2 children who we are planning on raising
trilingual. We have accomplished the bilingual part with the 3 year
old but we need help with the introduction of the 3rd language. Sarah
(3) speaks Flemish and English equally well. We would like to
introduce French soon. I am bilingual French English and my wife is
bilingual Flemish English.

Do you have any suggestions or could you refer me to any ongoing
studies relating to trilingualism?

Thank you for your time.

Jayson Campeau from Canada
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