The Yang Lectures

Lecturer: Charles Yang (University of Pennsylvania)

Titles & abstracts:

  1. How Children Acquire the Rules of Language

    I discuss the process by which children form linguistic generalizations on the basis of finite, and statistically sparse, input data. This lecture will directly address the traditional tension between rules vs. exceptions in language, and the more recent debates between generative and usage/constructionist approaches to language acquisition.

  2. Learning vs. Grammar

    Pursuing a learnability based approach to grammar, I show that linguistic generalizations long believed to be significant may in fact be marginal—and can be recognized as such by the child learner—and are thus not worthy of codifying in the architectural principles of grammar. If successful, this approach will shift the burden of explanatory adequacy away from the machinery of UG, leading to a less complex conception of language and its place in cognition.

  3. How Language Makes us Smart

    Drawing from the developmental research on number and generic knowledge, I explore the idea that the rich complexity of human cognition is shaped by children’s learning of the language-specific formal structure that encodes, and systematically relates, primitive concepts. I will also address the inevitable neo-Whorfian implications of this line of thinking.

Date and time: May 27-28 2019, 13.00-16.00, and May 29 2019, 10.00-13.00

Participation: free

Location:  KU Leuven, Faculty of Arts, Brussels Campus, Stormstraat 2, 1000 Brussels

Room number: 6306