News, somewhat exaggerated: Commentary on Ambridge, Pine, and Lieven

Ana Teresa PĂ©rez-Leroux & Arsalan Kahnemuyipour
(2014). Language. 90(3), e115-e125.

Ambridge, Pine, and Lieven (AP&L) claim that the knowledge attributed to children by the proponents of UG does not account for language acquisition, bringing evidence from several domains. In this response, we take issue with their claims with respect to two domains. In the case of categories, where distributional learning plays an important role, we argue that AP&L fail to recognize recent analyses showing that abstract representations yield better quantitative models for early child data. In the case of subjacency, we provide several empirical arguments against their claim that it can be reduced to some general discourse-pragmatic principles.