|Title:||Final Posting: Author's Response to Review|
|Description:||Michael Arbib addresses five points in my response to his review of How
New Languages Emerge (Cambridge UP, 2006) and here I respond to the
1. Arbib 'assumed readers would understand ... an I-language
approximates an E-language if the utterances it produces are far more
likely than not to belong to the E-language, with the approximation
continually tested as the child hears and produces new utterances.' His
assumption may be right among people who focus on construction types,
but that is part of the problem. An I-language is not a set of
utterances, certainly not a finite set of utterances. There has been
much misleading discussion stemming from that misapprehension, including discussion of I-languages being subsets of other I-languages, when all I-languages generate infinite sets of structures. Nor do I know what he means by 'an E-language,' as if there are enumerable E-languages. Furthermore, a major point of the cue-based approach to acquisition is to get away from the very problematic idea that children "test" I-languages against sets of data, as Arbib himself notes elsewhere in his review.
2. I wrote that Pullum & Scholz (2002) 'do not address' what they call
stimulus absence arguments and therefore that there was nothing for me
to respond to. I did not say that they endorsed such arguments and I
would be very surprised if they did so.
3. If Arbib says in one breath that 'no theory is offered of how the
child activates "cues",' he cannot then 'note that [my] theory seems to
offer positive features ...' He can't have it both ways. Nor does he
specify how my treatment of the expression of cues 'weaken[s] the case
that UG is needed to make language-learning possible,' when I invoked UG throughout the discussion of how cues are expressed.
4. He notes accurately that my brief response cites no evidence about
the interplay between adult changes and changes in acquisition by young
children. The evidence is provided in the book, which makes a big deal
of that interplay.