Pieces of Minds in Psycholinguistics: Steven Pinker, Kenneth Wexler, and Noam Chomsky A Series of Interviews Conducted by Jean A. Rondal

Jean A. Rondal
Published Online:
27 Sep 2007
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 29 Issue 2

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This is the third of a series of interviews featuring Steven Pinker, Noam Chomsky, and Kenneth Wexler, three giant figures in the fields of linguistics, psycholinguistics, and cognitive science. The first two interviews appeared in earlier issues of this journal (Vol. 28, Issue 4, pp. 459–480; Vol. 29, Issue 1, pp. 85–104).

Kenneth Wexler teaches and does his experimental work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is well known for his innovative work on language learnability (i.e. the problem of how correct linguistic representations can be attained given the limited data available to the child), which has led to considerable changes in linguistic and psycholinguistic theories and research orientations. More recently, Professor Wexler (in association with Hagit Borer) developed what they call a maturation theory of syntax, suggesting basically, in opposition to the continuity hypothesis, that the formal principles available to the child to fix his grammar mature (i.e. different principles are available at different stages of development).

In the interview, Kenneth Wexler speaks about his learnability work, its origins, and how he sees linguistic and psycholinguistic research and theories today. He comments on questions about his maturational point of view in syntax development.

The interview took place in Irvine (California) in May of 1988, and was subsequently revised. I am very grateful to Ken Wexler for his kind collaboration. Along with the text of the interview, the reader will find some information on Professor Wexler's background as well as a selected list of his publications.

© 1994 International Union of Psychological Science