Universal Grammar Ghosts « The Language Realm

The Language Realm blog reports:

A new chapter in the debate about Chomsky’s theory of universal grammar has opened up with real excitement. So even if you’re not into hard-core linguistics and have only heard of UG, read on. It’s worth it.

The story starts with field research nicely summarized on Physorg. The key point is that Daniel L. Everett, a linguist at Illinois State University, claims that the language Pirahã lacks certain fundamental features that UG predicts and requires.

Read it here:  The Language Realm Blog Universal Grammar Ghosts «

I should mention that the University of Oregon linguistics department, where I study, is what you might call a “bastion” of Functional Linguistics so, we are not surprised by this kind of evidence and would argue that there never was much (any?) evidence for an innate Universal Grammar in the first place!

 Related links:
Daniel Everett’s home page
Preliminary Pirahã Dictionary
Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition in Piraha (Everett 2005)
Piraha Exceptionality: a Reassessment (Nevins, Pesetsky, and Rodrigues 2007)
Cultural Constraints on Grammar in PIRAHÃ: A Reply to Nevins, Pesetsky, and Rodrigues (2007)


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