One of the oldest questions in cognitive science asks whether children are able to learn the language (or anything) because they are equipped with a very powerful general-purpose learning mechanism or because they are equipped with a domain-specific constrained language acquisition device. Recent advances in statistical approaches to language learning seem to boost the plausibility of general-purpose learning. However, in this article we propose that in the domain of verb learning, children rely more on their internally generated preconceptions about linguistic structure than on robust cues in the input, suggesting that at least in this aspect of language learning, domain-specific grammatical knowledge guides linguistic development.
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