The focus

This workshop, held as a satellite workshop of the 2012 annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America and collocated with the 2012 workshop on Psychocomputational Models of Human Language Acquisition (PsychoCompLA), examines the relationship between the input children receive and the eventual knowledge speakers attain. Every theory of language acquisition requires the input to play a causal role in the attainment of syntactic knowledge, but theories vary in the exact nature of this causal role - ranging from those with minimal linguistic presuppositions about the form of possible knowledge to those with very rich presuppositions. Given this goal, we expect talks on a variety of topics, such as:

  • data/studies that favor/disfavor the need for prior linguistic knowledge
  • the importance/influence of different data distributions on the trajectory of acquisition
  • comparisons of different theories of grammar acquisition based on empirical data
  • interesting syntactic phenomena that may be fruitful avenues to explore for addressing claims of prior knowledge

The inspiration

The workshop stems from the grant "Testing the Universal Grammar Hypothesis" (NSF BCS-0843896), written by Lisa Pearl and Jon Sprouse, and is supported by the National Science Foundation as well as the PASCAL2 Network of Excellence. One of the most controversial (set of) claims in linguistic theory is that the data available to children during the language learning process underdetermines the language eventually attained, and that the solution to this induction problem is domain-specific innate knowledge (the Universal Grammar (UG) hypothesis). Recent debates in the language learning literature have questioned both the existence of induction problems and the possibility of ever falsifying the UG hypothesis. Lisa and Jon proposed a specific methodology for quantifying the induction problems faced by children during language learning, and empirically testing the UG hypothesis.

The previous ISA workshop (ISA 2009) was held in 2009 at UC Irvine.

All of the talks at ISA 2012 are invited presentations of approximately 30 minutes followed by a few minutes of discussion afterwards, and a longer open discussion with all speakers at the end of all presentations. We hope this format will stimulate fruitful interaction. You can find our invited speakers here, with more information on the schedule page as it becomes available. We are very excited to have speakers with a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints.

Misha Becker
Linguistics Department, University of North Carolina

Alexander Clark (PASCAL2-sponsored speaker)
Department of Computer Science, Royal Holloway University of London

Bob Frank
Linguistics Department, Yale University

Lisa Pearl & Jon Sprouse
Department of Cognitive Sciences, University of California, Irvine

Virginia Valian
Department of Psychology, Hunter College, City University of New York

ISA2012 Registration is Free
  • This workshop is free and open to all, though you must also register for the LSA annual meeting to attend.
    To register for the workshop and the LSA meeting together, use this link:
    LSA + ISA registration,
    with sister society passcode PSYCHOCOMP2012.
    (Note: capitalization matters.)

Contact Info
Lisa Pearl & Jon Sprouse
3151 Social Science Plaza Irvine, CA 92697

Design downloaded from free website templates.