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The Processing and Acquisition of Reference$
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Edward A. Gibson and Neal J. Pearlmutter

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015127

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015127.001.0001

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Cues Don’t Explain Learning

Cues Don’t Explain Learning

Maximal Trouble in the Determiner System

(p.15) 2 Cues Don’t Explain Learning
The Processing and Acquisition of Reference

Ken Wexler

The MIT Press

This chapter explores the development of the definite and indefinite determiner in children, with an emphasis on the distinction between competence (knowledge) and performance (processing). In psycholinguistics, the study of performance is tied to the study of competence. Drawing on the results of an eye-tracking study undertaken by John Trueswell et al. (1999), the chapter argues that children have a different representation of determiners than do adults and that they encounter difficulties with the assumption of maximality for the definite determiner. It also challenges the proposals made by Trueswell et al., thus casting doubt on processing-based theories of aspects of language development. After providing an overview of the computational system of language, the chapter discusses the development of definite and indefinite determiners, the egocentric theory of why children have trouble with determiners, and the so-called “Kindergarten-path Effect”.

Keywords:   children, competence, performance, psycholinguistics, John Trueswell, determiners, maximality, language development, egocentric theory, Kindergarten-path Effect

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