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Noam Chomsky  on Universal Grammar

Noam Chomsky on Universal Grammar

Noam Chomsky - Universal Grammar

Universal Grammar

Universal Grammar (UG) in linguistics, is the theory of the genetic component of the language faculty, usually credited to Noam Chomsky. The basic postulate of UG is that a certain set of structural rules are innate to humans, independent of sensory experience.

The theory of universal grammar proposes that if human beings are brought up under normal conditions, then they will always develop language with certain properties (e.g., distinguishing nouns from verbs, or distinguishing function words from content words).

The theory proposes that there is an innate, genetically determined language faculty that knows these rules, making it easier and faster for children to learn to speak than it otherwise would be.

Criticism to the Universal Grammar Theory

Geoffrey Sampson maintains that universal grammar theories are not falsifiable and are therefore pseudoscientific.

He argues that the grammatical “rules” linguists posit are simply post-hoc observations about existing languages, rather than predictions about what is possible in a language.

Swarthmore College said:

I and many fellow linguists would estimate that we only have a detailed scientific description of something like 10% to 15% of the world’s languages, and for 85% we have no real documentation at all.

Thus it seems premature to begin constructing grand theories of universal grammar. If we want to understand universals, we must first know the particulars.

Other Articles on Second Language Acquisition

  1. Second Language Acquisition: Monitor Hypothesis
  2. Second Language Acquisition: Interlanguage and Fossilization
  3. Language Acquisition: The Critical Period Hypothesis
  4. 5 Things You Should Know if you are in your Silent Period
  5. 3 Affective Variables in Second Language Acquisition
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