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Chapter 3

LING 4P10 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Universal Grammar, Linguistic System, Grammaticality

Course Code
James Corcoran

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Chapter 3: Linguistic Theory, Universal Grammar, and SLA
The Theory and Its Constructs
The Linguistic Competence of Native Speakers and L1 Acquirers
-Generative linguistic theory aims to provide a characterization of the linguistic
competence of native speakers of a language and explain how it is possible for child
L1 acquirers to achieve that competence
-use (comprehension and production) is said to be based on an abstract linguistic
system - syntax, semantics, etc.
-Unconscious knowledge of language based on Universal Grammar
-Poverty of the stimulus: the mismatch between input that children are exposed to
and their ultimate attainment
-Our knowledge of language goes beyond input in many ways
-We can produce sentences we never heard before
-Know that certain structures are grammatical or ungrammatical without
being taught
-Know that interpretations of sentences are not possible in certain contexts
-Linguistic input underdetermines linguistic competence
-Children must bring innate knowledge to the task of language acquisition
-Input alone is not enough
Interlanguage Competence
-Language of L2 learners is systematic and rule-governed
-Interlanguage: the linguistic competence of L2 learners and L2 speakers
-If it can be shown that L2ers acquire abstract and subtle properties that are
underdetermined by the L2 input, this suggests that interlanguage competence
must be subject to the same constraints as native competence
-If it turns out that L2ers demonstrate the same kind of subtle knowledge as native
speakers, a reasonable objection would be that the source of this knowledge is not
UG directly, but the mother tongue grammar
Universal Grammar: Principles and Parameters
-Principles of UG constrain the form of grammars as well as the operation of
linguistic rules
-The claim is that language acquirers do not have to learn these because they
are built into UG
-Universal principles do not necessarily operate in all languages but only in
that subset of
languages that exhibit the relevant properties
Ex. the island constraint only applies to languages that have wh
-Parameters: account for certain circumscribed di/erences across languages
-Input data is said to trigger the appropriate parametric choice for the
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