ABSTRACT

Chapter 4 proceeded on the assumption that although children following the communicative process without a priori knowledge might acquire an observationally adequate grammar of English in a reasonable time period, it would be inappropriate to herald an alternative to the innateness hypothesis unless they would move to the grammar by an empirically plausible route. Thus, Chapter 4 spelled out the steps by which the grammar should be constructed given the communicative process without a priori knowledge, and checked their consistency with the data as they stand. It is, of course, a strength of the process (a strength not true of the innateness hypothesis in all its forms) that precise steps could be predicted, and hence that checking their consistency was a non-vacuous task. However, it is an even greater strength that despite the presentation of data that bore on a range of distinct and sometimes counterintuitive hypotheses, nothing discussed in Chapter 4 was seriously troubling for the predictions at stake. Taking this with the points about timing advanced in Chapter 3, it may begin to look as if the communicative process without a priori knowledge does concur with the known facts about English. In which case, the question posed early in Chapter 1 could receive a partially affirmative answer. As regards English, there is an alternative to the innateness hypothesis for the explanation of learning.