Acquisition Grammatical Categories Through Qur'anic Memorization

Apr 22, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This isn't a post about religious studies, but rather an examination of how much grammar people can learn without explicit instruction. And as Arika Okrent reports the answer is: quite a bit. "People, even as babies, are good at pulling out grammatical structure from patterned data." data are limited on this, but there is a large scale data set available in the form of people who had memorized the Qur'an. "Had they absorbed the rules of how they worked simply by hearing and repeating them in memorized text? Yes. The memorizers without classroom Arabic did better than any of the other groups at demonstrating knowledge of the rules." With LanguageHat I agree, "I welcome this as another nail in the coffin of the Chomskyite dogma that grammar must be innate because we couldn’t possibly learn it from simply hearing a language spoken." Learning is not rule-based. 

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