18

The Wikipedia claim that 'the majority of linguists accept universal grammar' is highly unlikely to be true. I would posit an alternative hypothesis: The majority of linguists do not care about universal grammar. They may be skeptical or enthusiastic about the whole enterprise but they probably do not know enough about it to be able to adjudicate. It is ...


10

Let's start at the end. It is impossible to talk about original theories in this context. There was actually no cohesive formulation of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. That is a label assigned later to a set of assumptions about language relativity formulated by Whorf who was inspired by his teacher Sapir. Neither can you talk about Chomsky's original theory ...


8

One has to be careful how the words Noun and Verb are understood, if one wants a good answer. Semanticists talk about Entities and Events, and leave Noun and Verb as formal categories, dependent on criteria of usage (can it be a subject? can it take a definite article?) instead of meaning. Frawley (Linguistic Semantics, 1992 Ch.3 "Entities", p....


8

While this is an oldish question with some existing good answers, I think there's something fundamental missing from all of them: "Universal grammar" is both ambiguous and vague, and people who "don't believe in UG" are usually not even talking about the same thing as people who "believe in UG". The core notion of UG is pretty uncontroversial: there is ...


8

Not really. "Participle" can be defined pretty reliably as "an inflected form of a verb that acts as an adjective". But the line between a participle and any other adjective derived from a verb is fairly arbitrary: there's no obvious descriptive reason why -tus adjectives in Latin are "participles" and -τος adjectives in Greek ...


7

I assume, based on the your posts elsewhere, that by 'sentence parts', you are referring to grammatical relations (GRs) like subject, object, etc. In the future, it would be clearer for you to call them that, as this is the standard terminology in English. I think you are confused about argument structures and grammatical relations. Argument structures ...


6

I would highlight Wittgenstein's idea of family resemblances, which served as a basis for a very productive field in semantics (specificaly prototype theory). This basically postulates that words and their meanings do not work in binary categories but are organised in a field-like manner, where at the centre of the semantic field you have the prototypes (the ...


6

The "Natural" in Natural Semantic Metalanguage is intended to contrast with other semantic metalanguages which use non-linguistic symbols and syntax. Here's an example, which apparently is describing the semantics of have to: [[have to ϕ]]w,f,g = 1 iff for all v ∈ f(w) such that there is no v' ∈ f(w) such that g(w)(v',v),[[ϕ]]v,f,g = 1 In contrast, a ...


6

There's some nice sources on it in the functionalist camp. Can't find it now, but I think Haspelmath or Croft phrased UG as "whatever is left when we look at all the languages", which in essence is 1) not much, 2) probably not very informative. Typologists have been arguing against universal categories to be used for cross-linguistic comparisons even. Few ...


6

Given your background in mathematical logic, I'd say that there isn't any better place to learn about Chomsky's contributions than by reading Chomsky himself. If you want to chart the development of Chomsky's own thinking at the macro level, I'd recommend reading the following works in the order given: Syntactic Structures (1957) Current Issues in ...


5

I have found a paper that addresses this question directly (finally!). Svenonius & Ramchand's 2014 paper (here) offers an explanation for universal "grammatical zones" that appeals both to innate grammatical principles and properties of extralinguistic cognition. From the abstract: ...there remains an irreduceable universal functional hierarchy, for ...


5

Since your question is phrased so broadly and there are tons of research on Universal Grammar (UG), I have to write a likewise broad answer, which is nevertheless technically correct: Universal Grammar is the genetic component of the language faculty (Berwick and Chomsky 2016). Bernard Comrie (as early as Comrie 1989) noted that this research paradigm - ...


5

Beginning with your very last parenthesized question, does "this" refer to the argument you quote from Wikipedia or the argument you yourself make that begins with "however"? And why does that argument begin with "however", anyhow? It's hard to make out your question, once one realizes that the machine models you refer to are essentially due to Chomsky ...


4

Well, the basics are the same: all languages have consonants and vowels, and always more consonants than vowel qualities. All of them have verbs and, slightly controversially, all of them have nouns. The reason for the controversy is that some languages have nouns that look and behave a bit like verbs. All languages have syntax, the core words for body ...


4

I think the answer has to be no, not from the perspective of observed facts of language, but from problems with the idea of "carrying information". Here's an example from (American) English. There is a rule of pronunciation that /t/ (for /k/ for some people) is pre-glottalized at the end of the syllable. So you could say that this rule "carries no ...


4

The fundamental problem of the question is that it leaves undefined what "a linguist" is, and there is no common-sense or operational definition that could be applied to conducting a survey, or making an educated guess. If you were to specifically limit the question to professional linguists (post-PhD, paid to do linguistics) working on synchronic ...


4

Languages are more than just collections of words, and you're going to run into many problems at many levels. Let's pick one really obvious problem: What counts as a word? The single Yupik word "tuntussuqatarniksaitengqiggtuq" crams an entire clause into it. The root "ssur" just means "to hunt", but after attaching 6 affixes, the full word means "He had not ...


3

I think you've got it the other way round. "Chomskyan" theory of UG is much more of a claim about "the brain", which (in humans) has specific machinery for language. The idea is that the language is probably not underpinned by the general cognitive mechanisms. Whorfian stuff, by contrast, is psychological. He does not claim that brains of people speaking ...


3

You misstate the crux of the so called "poverty of the stimulus" argument. It does not say that language is too difficult for children because it obviously is not. The point is that even with remarkably impoverished stimulus (with some very few extremes like feral children being the exception), children seem to acquire syntactic structures for which they ...


3

There is actually a chapter on perfective-imperfective aspect in the free online resource, The World Atlas of Language Structures, where this hypothesis is discussed and specifically rejected by the authors. Here is the relevant quotation from it: Even if perhaps not so often formulated as an explicit hypothesis, there seems to be a widespread view of ...


3

Just because a language or all languages are capable of recursion does not prove that grammatical recursive sentence structure is hard-wired into the brain. These are examples of logical fallacy: Recursive sentence structure is hard-wired into the brain because all languages are capable of recursion. Playing games is hard-wired into the brain because all ...


3

Even if Everett's analysis is correct (and I found his arguments convincing), it doesn't. It might well be the case that Pirahã doesn't make use of recursion but most languages clearly do. Note that there are varying levels of recursion. For example, the Andean languages use possessive recursion ("the house of my Dad's aunt") but no verbal recursion (there ...


3

People working on language evolution in the intellectual tradition you describe believe the following things (I limit myself to give an accurate rendering of their positions; as none of the opinons described below are part of the scientific consensus). 1) Language is a core human faculty, fundamentally different from animal communication; which they take to ...


3

Any linguistic answer to this question has to be at least partly theory laden. There are many approaches to linguistic universals. The most general points would be: 1. All natural languages can be acquired by people born into a community of speakers, or learned by people as a second language (with well-known limitations). 2. The propositional content of ...


3

There is a theory of language which has the concept of Universal Grammar, but that refers simply to "Whatever is necessarily available to all human languages". It does not include such things as "accusative" or particular tenses and moods. There is no "specification" for Universal Grammar written up, whereby you can see what is supposed to be in UG -- there'...


3

McCawley argues that recursively generated past tenses do exist in English. See discussion beginning about page 221 in Syntactic Phenomena of English. Past is a predicate of a sentence which may itself predicate Past of some sentence.


2

There are formalized dependency-based grammars, such as Meaning-Text Theory or Functional Generative Description. A simple Google search will give you links to papers and books.


2

The UG proposed by Chomsky has to be one that is consistent with transformational grammar, because Chomsky proposed TG. Chomsky does not like to be wrong. But TG is wrong -- there are no transformations. Once we give up on transformations, we can see that the answer is at hand. There is a UG, which was originally proposed by Chomsky himself, and that is ...


2

Yes, some serious scholars do. (Not me -- I have no opinion.) The earlier thread here which you referred to and the references given there surely show that. Should a reasonable person believe such a thing? What's the problem? You can probably think of English sentences without any nouns, so why shouldn't all sentences of some language be like that? Here'...


2

The so-called "nature vs nurture" debate in linguistics is not as dichotomous as it may seem from the first sight. Everybody agrees that humans have innate abilities that enable them to learn language. (By "everybody" I mean Chomsky, Pinker, Jackendoff, Goldberg, Langacker, Lakoff, Evans, and basically any linguist from any possible camp.) It is obvious to ...


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