Laying the groundwork for the DELV (Precursor literature, dissertations, joint work of the Working Groups prior to the conceptualization of the DELV)

Publication Date



In D. McDaniel, H. Cairns, & C. McKee (Eds.), Methods for assessing children's syntax (pp. 163-188). Cambridge MA: MIT Press.


In the philosophy of science considerable attention has been paid to the question of how to be sure that a given experimental result can be taken as supporting evidence for a theory. How do we escape from this dilemma in our linguistic research? How can we know that a certain set of results is evidence on behalf of a theory and not due to the auxiliary assumptions required for the test? We have tried to do acquisition studies on aspects of reasonably refined linguistic theories, so that there are other kinds of evidence already articulated in their defense. In our experiments, the auxiliary assumptions are held constant across two conditions that elicit different responses, so the minimal difference between the two conditions must be held responsible for the responses. If the auxiliary assumptions are appealed to as explanation for one phenomenon, they can be shown to make precisely the wrong predictions for a second phenomenon within the same experiment.

Journal or Book Title

Methods for assessing children's syntax





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