Our presentation is about Noam Chomsky's famous theory, Universal Grammar, also called UG for short.
Before discussing Chomsky's theory of UG, we'd like to provide you with a brief intro to Chomsky himself. We'd like to do this partly because it may help you understand his theory of UG better and partly because he has been one of the most influential people in the field of language acquisition. Having thus been so influential, students of TESOL should be familiar with some basic facts about Chompsky.
•As of 2005, Chomsky has produced over 80 books, hundreds of articles, and thousands of speeches and interviews •Chomsky has been hugely influential in the fields of linguistics, philosophy of the mind and human nature, and politics •Chomsky brings a naturalistic, biologically-oriented science to all these fields i hi h h d t ib tiin which has made contributions •Linguists in the Chomskyan tradition think of themselves as natural sciences [not social scientists] (McGilvary, 2005, pg. 1-2)
•Chomsky's work in linguistics began in 1940 with his undergraduate this at U. of Penn (McGilvray, 2005, pg. 12) •Belongs to the linguistic school of thought known as generative linguistics (Newmeyer, 1996, pg. 11) •Chomsky's approach to language acquisition is often termed the Nativist Approach and is itself part of the Cognitive-Computational Tradition that reached it's height of popularity in the 1960's - 70's (Brown 2000 pgs 9 24;reached it s height of popularity in the 1960 s 70 s (Brown, 2000, pgs. 9, 24; Johnson, 2004, pg. 11) •Chomsky introduced the world to the essential tenets of Nativist Theory in his 1965 work Aspects of Theory and Syntax (de Valenzuela, 2000, pg. 58)
So what are the essential tenets of nativist theory?
•Language acquisition is innately determined, i.e. humans are born with a genetic predisposition to systematically perceive language around us and to use that stimuli in the construction of an internalized system of language •[nativist theory makes use of the notion of the] Language Acquisition Device (LAD) [ th h it i i d th t thi i h th ti l t t th(LAD) [even though it is recognized that this is a hypothetical structure rather than an actual area of the brain] •[more recently, nativist theory has come to rely upon the notion of] Universal Grammar (UG) [UG goes well beyond what was originally proposed for the LAD and expands it into a system of universal linguistic rules that are hardwired into every human being from birth] (Brown, 2000, pgs. 24-25)
Okay, so lets talk about UG.
Firstly, Chomsky and his followers base the existence of Universal Grammar on the observation and deduction that came to be known as the Logical Problem of Language Acquisition.
The logical problem of language acquisition refers to the gap between what can logically be learned from the available input - which is often degenerate, ungrammatical, and incomplete (the poverty of the stimulus argument)...