Chomsky’s theories, such as the Minimalist Program and Universal Grammar, argue that language is made up of small units (like words or phrases) that people combine or “merge” to create larger language structures. This is a hierarchical process that builds upon itself. This means unit A and unit B can merge to create a unit C, and unit A may already contain two or more elements. These units build upon each other to form grammar and grammatic rules (Marantz, 2005). Following this theory, humans have the ability to create innumerous sequences through merging, internal merging, re-merging, movement, and displacement. These typical or “universal” grammar rules are unique to each language and can be applied to most situations within that language. I agree with Chomsky’s view on language.
One reason I agree is because of how clear these universal rules are. Language parameters, which are the unique rules discussed above, are specific to each language and not do not always transfer to other languages. This makes new language acquisition difficult and early learners better at it because people who are proficient in their own language’s parameters tend to apply these rules to other languages when they simply do not apply (Yang et al., 2017). Additionally, Marantz (2005) argues that the principles within Chomsky’s theory are actually in line with and a part of many other language evolution theories, including those from linguists and neuroscientists alike. With this wide acceptance of these principles, it is easy for me to agree with this theory.
Class, what are some other evolution of language theories? How do they align or not align with Chomsky’s language theories?
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