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The quantificational apparatus of language: integrating theory, development, and pathology.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007, 01:00pm - 02:00pm
Indiana University, Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences
A core property of language is reflected in our ability to express abstract generalizations about quantities of individuals (e.g. some people smoke, every politician lies). The quantificational apparatus of language is not only central to its expressive power, but it is also extremely complex, and has been approached from a variety of disciplines, including logic, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology. In this talk, I will present results from a research program designed to investigate quantification from an interdisciplinary perspective, integrating work in theoretical linguistics, developmental psychology, and speech-language pathology. In doing so, I will show that such integration is not only possible, but also highly desirable. In the area of typical development, I will present results that call for a reinterpretation of most previous research on the acquisition of quantification. I will then show, in the theoretical part, that these new developmental results can be directly brought to bear on the formulation of linguistic and learnability theory. Finally, in the part on atypical development, I will present new results on Williams Syndrome (WS) � a rare genetic disorder suggesting a potential dissociation between language and cognition � and show that the integrative approach provides a unique way to address the central � and currently controversial - issue of whether grammatical knowledge is indeed spared in WS. In sum, the work to be presented demonstrates that when integrated, the formal, developmental, and pathological perspectives constrain and enrich each other in ways that can further advance our understanding of the structure and development of the language faculty, as well as its relation to the rest of cognitive architecture.