Monday, April 5, 2021

Generative grammar in the 21st century: Innateness is not doing so well

A recent post by Martin Haspelmath, Some (ex-)generative grammarians who are abandoning innateness. The opening paragraph:

In the 1960s, a view of language became famous according to which key aspects of grammatical structures are innate and “grow” in the child (rather than being learned). This came in two prominent versions: the “formal and substantive universals” of Chomsky (1965), and later the “principles and parameters” of Chomsky’s (1981) Government and Binding (GB) approach. But in the 21st century, there seems to be less and less certainty about the idea of innate grammatical structures (called “universal grammar”, or “innate grammar blueprint”), and in this blogpost I would like to highlight a few remarkable shifts of opinion among prominent generative grammarians. (Of course, there have always been skeptics outside of the generative school; these are not mentioned here.)

If the topic interests you the whole post is worth at least skimming. There's a short bibliography at the end.

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