Making sense of syntax – Innate or acquired? Contrasting universal grammar with other approaches to language acquisition

  title={Making sense of syntax – Innate or acquired? Contrasting universal grammar with other approaches to language acquisition},
  author={Christian Kliesch},
Proponents of a Universal Grammar argue that humans are born with a dedicated language system that shapes and restricts the number of grammars found in human languages (Chomsky, 2005). It is essentially innate and has a genetic manifestation. Such an innate system is necessary because human grammars are too complex to be passed on through social interactions and probabilistic learning alone. However, this view is contested by a combination of emergentist approaches and a number of studies… 


This study investigated whether the use of the minimal pairs’ strategy improves English pronunciation of unfamiliar consonant sounds for native Arab student in a 2nd intermediate grade in Saudi

Karim Sherwan Hamagarib The Role of the Mother-Tongue Based Programs in Promoting Education and Integration of Immigrant-Background Children within the Turku Municipality Master’s Thesis in Education FACULTY OF EDUCATION Master’s Degree Programme in Education and Globalisation 2018 University of Oul

  • Education
  • 2018
This study evaluates the extent to which the introduction of the OMO (Education given in students’ native languages) and MAI (Immigrant native language education) programs into the comprehensive



Language Acquisition and Use: Learning and Applying Probabilistic Constraints

An alternative view is emerging from studies of statistical and probabilistic aspects of language, connectionist models, and the learning capacities of infants that retains the idea that innate capacities constrain language learning, but calls into question whether they include knowledge of grammatical structure.

Universal Grammar, statistics or both?

Language Acquisition is Language Change

Two studies investigate English-speaking children’s productions, and a third examines the interpretation of sentences by Japanese speaking children, that provide support for the theory of Universal grammar, and resist explanation on experience-based accounts.

Three Factors in Language Design

The biolinguistic perspective regards the language faculty as an organ of the body, along with other cognitive systems. Adopting it, we expect to find three factors that interact to determine (I-)

Universal grammar is dead

Abstract The idea of a biologically evolved, universal grammar with linguistic content is a myth, perpetuated by three spurious explanatory strategies of generative linguists. To make progress in

The biological and cultural foundations of language

It is argued that processes of cultural evolution have been the primary factor affecting the evolution of linguistic structure, suggesting that the genetic constraints on language largely predate the emergence of language itself.

The faculty of language: what is it, who has it, and how did it evolve?

We argue that an understanding of the faculty of language requires substantial interdisciplinary cooperation. We suggest how current developments in linguistics can be profitably wedded to work in

Language Acquisition Meets Language Evolution

It is argued that understanding the acquisition of any cultural form, whether linguistic or otherwise, during development, requires considering the corresponding question of how that cultural form arose through processes of cultural evolution, which helps resolve the "logical" problem of language acquisition.

The myth of language universals and the myth of universal grammar

Abstract Evans & Levinson (E&L) argue that language universals are a myth. Christiansen and Chater (2008) have recently suggested that innate universal grammar is also a myth. This commentary

The myth of language universals: language diversity and its importance for cognitive science.

This target article summarizes decades of cross-linguistic work by typologists and descriptive linguists, showing just how few and unprofound the universal characteristics of language are, once the authors honestly confront the diversity offered to us by the world's 6,000 to 8,000 languages.