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Richard F. Cromer
November 26, 1940 - June 14, 1990
Richard Cromer testing a child on the wolf-and-duck experiment
Photograph by Peggo Cromer
Richard Cromer wrote his PhD. thesis, 'The Development of Temporal Reference during the Acquisition of Language' at Harvard University under Professor Roger Brown in the late 1960's. During that period he was part of Brown's team of young scholars, including Ursula Bellugi, Colin Fraser, Courtney Cazden, Jean Berko Gleason, David McNeill, and Dan Slobin, who were studying the development of language from the new Chomskian perspective that had begun to revolutionize linguistics.  Their case studies of 'Adam', 'Eve' and Sarah have become classics in the field.

Roger Brown in the preface to Cromer's last book, Language and Thought in Normal and Handicapped Children, published a year after his death...

Chapter 2 is the last word we shall have from him on the cognition hypothesis: "It has become increasingly popular to speculate about whether there are modular components of human knowledge. 'Language' has often figured prominently in these speculations, but the different advocates of this position often disagree about what a module includes. Does modularity apply only to the core syntax... Or is modularity broader even than syntax itself?"

That statement is important because Rick made it - after some twenty-two years of grappling with the issues.  But you do not need to know that twenty-two years went into that statement to appreciate its weight.  You need only read the critical review that precedes it; it is the most penetrating, complete, and fair-minded discussion of research on language and thought ever written.

Key books and articles by Richard Cromer

'"Children are nice to understand": Surface structure clues for the recovery of a deep structure', British Journal of Psychology, 1970, 61: 397-408.

'The learning of surface structure clues to deep structure by a puppet show technique',
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
, 1972, 24: 66-76.

'Are subnormals linguistic adults?'  in Language, cognitive deficits and retardation, edited by N. O'Connor, 1975, Butterworth.

'The strengths of the weak form of the cognition hypothesis for language acquisition' in
Language Development
edited by Victor Lee, 1979, Croom Helm.

'A longitudinal study of the acquisition of word knowledge: Evidence against gradual learning',
British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 1983 1: 307-316.

'Hierarchical planning disability in the drawings and constructions of a special group of severely aphasic children', Brain and Cognition, 1983, 2, 144-164

'Language growth with experience without feedback', Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 1987, Vol. 16/3: 223-231.

'The cognition hypothesis revisited' in The development of language and language researchers: Essays in honor of Roger Brown, edited by F. Kessel, 1988,  Erlbaum.

Language and Thought in Normal and Handicapped Children, 1991, Blackwell.

'Language acquisition, language disorder and cognitive development' in Language Development and Disorders, edited by W. Yule, M. Rutter, 1991 Mac Keith Press

'A case study of dissociations between language and cognition' in Constraints on language acquisition : studies of atypical children, edited by H. Tager-Flusberg, 1994, Erlbaum.


This page was last updated on: October 19, 2005