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Entangled parametric hierarchies: problems for an overspecified universal grammar.

Boeckx C, Leivada E - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: A novel program-based analysis is implemented in order to show certain empirical problems related to these hierarchies.The program was developed on the basis of an enriched data base spanning 23 contemporary and 5 ancient languages.Pinpointing these issues leads to the proposal that (i) the (bio)logical problem of language acquisition does not amount to a process of triggering innately pre-wired values of parameters and (ii) it paves the way for viewing language, epigenetic ('parametric') variation as an externalization-related epiphenomenon, whose learning component may be more important than what sometimes is assumed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: ICREA, Barcelona, Spain ; Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

ABSTRACT
This study addresses the feasibility of the classical notion of parameter in linguistic theory from the perspective of parametric hierarchies. A novel program-based analysis is implemented in order to show certain empirical problems related to these hierarchies. The program was developed on the basis of an enriched data base spanning 23 contemporary and 5 ancient languages. The empirical issues uncovered cast doubt on classical parametric models of language acquisition as well as on the conceptualization of an overspecified Universal Grammar that has parameters among its primitives. Pinpointing these issues leads to the proposal that (i) the (bio)logical problem of language acquisition does not amount to a process of triggering innately pre-wired values of parameters and (ii) it paves the way for viewing language, epigenetic ('parametric') variation as an externalization-related epiphenomenon, whose learning component may be more important than what sometimes is assumed.

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Settable dependent parameters across languages.
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pone-0072357-g003: Settable dependent parameters across languages.

Mentions: One should lay emphasis on the column that shows the results for dependent parameters, since this is where languages proceed in non-uniform ways. Grico and Latin lie on the edges of the continuum but they do not form the only combination showing that a significant amount of variation/non-uniformity exists in the parameter-setting task that each language requires. A schematic representation of the third column of table 1 in the form of a line chart is given in figure 3 in order to show that neither Grico nor Latin can be treated as outliers. The difference that Grico has from Salentino and Rumanian, which have 38 settable nodes, is not that robust so as to justify elimination of Grico, neither is the difference between Latin and Finnish, which has 24 settable nodes.


Entangled parametric hierarchies: problems for an overspecified universal grammar.

Boeckx C, Leivada E - PLoS ONE (2013)

Settable dependent parameters across languages.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3760868&req=5

pone-0072357-g003: Settable dependent parameters across languages.
Mentions: One should lay emphasis on the column that shows the results for dependent parameters, since this is where languages proceed in non-uniform ways. Grico and Latin lie on the edges of the continuum but they do not form the only combination showing that a significant amount of variation/non-uniformity exists in the parameter-setting task that each language requires. A schematic representation of the third column of table 1 in the form of a line chart is given in figure 3 in order to show that neither Grico nor Latin can be treated as outliers. The difference that Grico has from Salentino and Rumanian, which have 38 settable nodes, is not that robust so as to justify elimination of Grico, neither is the difference between Latin and Finnish, which has 24 settable nodes.

Bottom Line: A novel program-based analysis is implemented in order to show certain empirical problems related to these hierarchies.The program was developed on the basis of an enriched data base spanning 23 contemporary and 5 ancient languages.Pinpointing these issues leads to the proposal that (i) the (bio)logical problem of language acquisition does not amount to a process of triggering innately pre-wired values of parameters and (ii) it paves the way for viewing language, epigenetic ('parametric') variation as an externalization-related epiphenomenon, whose learning component may be more important than what sometimes is assumed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: ICREA, Barcelona, Spain ; Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

ABSTRACT
This study addresses the feasibility of the classical notion of parameter in linguistic theory from the perspective of parametric hierarchies. A novel program-based analysis is implemented in order to show certain empirical problems related to these hierarchies. The program was developed on the basis of an enriched data base spanning 23 contemporary and 5 ancient languages. The empirical issues uncovered cast doubt on classical parametric models of language acquisition as well as on the conceptualization of an overspecified Universal Grammar that has parameters among its primitives. Pinpointing these issues leads to the proposal that (i) the (bio)logical problem of language acquisition does not amount to a process of triggering innately pre-wired values of parameters and (ii) it paves the way for viewing language, epigenetic ('parametric') variation as an externalization-related epiphenomenon, whose learning component may be more important than what sometimes is assumed.

Show MeSH