Sunteți pe pagina 1din 3

AReviewof"ChomskysUniversalGrammar:Anintroduction" ByPaulPrae TheUniversityofGeorgia LING2100 ShihJuYoung April13th,2009 V.J.Cookpresentsmanyideas,theories,andresearchtohelpusbetterunderstandtheway childrenbegintomastertheirlanguage.Henotonlydiscussestheoutsideinfluencesthattheminduses toconstructallofthecomplexprocesses,butalsomentionsthepossibilitiesinvolvingtheinnateand intuitiveitemsthatmayalreadybeinthemind.Besideshisownhypothesis,theories,concepts, principles,research,etc.healsousesthoseofAvramNoamChomsky,JeromeBruner,anddozensof others.HeusesstudiessuchastheBristolstudy,thestudyoftheKahuliofthePapuaNewGuinea fromaround1984,andthosedonebythemanylinguists,psychologists,andhistoriansthatCook deemsrelevant.Textbooks,papers,andarticlesarealsocitedforgatheringdataandanalysissuchas: the"IntroductiontotheTheoryofGrammar"byHenkVanRiemsdijkandEdwinWilliams,C.L.

Baker's1979paperonsyntacticanalysis,E.M.Gold's1967writingoncognitivelearnability, quotationsfromGleitmanfrom1984involvingdifferencesinenvironments,PsychologyandLanguage: AnintroductionintopsycholinguisticsbyH.H.ClarkandE.V.Clark,RogerBrown's"aFirst Language",andseveralmore.Thedata,research,testsubjects,specificexperiments,andvarious specificapproachesusedtowritethispaperarevastandnumerous.Forthisreview,becauseofits twopagelimitation,IwillrestrictthecontenttoCook'sfindingsandobservationsofthosethingsIjust mentioned. Thepaperbeginsbydiscussinghowincrediblycomplexlanguageistolearn.Itsuggeststhat thereissomethingdeeper,suchasinnatecapabilities,thatallowshumanbeingstoapprehendall aspectsoflanguage.Toprovethis,itissuggestedthattherearetwostatesofmind,S0andSs.The firstisthefreshmindofthechildwhilethesecondisthesteadystateoftheadult.Tofindwhat capabilitiesareinnatewemustdiscoverwhatisnotdevelopedbetweenthosetwostages.The conceptofUniversalGrammarseemstoplayanimportantroleandisstatedasanintegralpartofthe stateS0.Muchofthestructureandsystemforthewaywespeakisbornwithuswhilethevalues associatedwiththeparametersofthissystemandtheelementsoftheperipheryaregatheredthrough experience.CookalsodiscussestheELanguageapproach,ILanguageapproach,andtheChomsky modelsaswayswaydecipheringtheissue.Allofwhichhedeemsasinadequatebythemselves. ChomskyisnotedasprovidingthemostusefulknowledgeofthesubjectandCookagreeswithmost ofChomsky'swork.ManyexamplesareprovidedtoshowhowChomsky'sandalltheseother conceptsarerelevant.Examplesofallsortsarepresentthroughthereading.Eachnarratingaspecific concept. Thenextsectiondealswiththemethodsweusetowardslanguageacquisition.Itisdividedinto twocategories:thepositiveevidenceofwhatisallowedandthetoolsweusetoknowwhatisnot allowedinthelanguage.Chomskydivideslanguageacquisitionintothreetypes:positiveevidence, directnegativeevidence,andindirectnegativeevidence.Cookthenmentionshowthesearenot

adequateforacquisitionandthatatypeofexplanatoryevidencewithrequirementsofoccurrenceand uniformitymaybenecessary. Otherformsofacquisitionarepresentedandanalyzed.Imitationisshowntobeanimportant roleforchildren.Imitationiswherechildrenonlyusetheexactsentenceinformationtheyacquire throughtheirenvironment.Thenextistheexplanatoryevidencethatisknowntocounteractthe inadequaciesofpositiveevidenceacquisition.Oneproblemisthatifachildisoldenoughto understandtheexplanationtheyarehardlyinneedofit.Theotheristhattheteachersofthelanguage tothechildrenhardlyhaveconsciousknowledgeoftheworkingsofthelanguageandwouldrarely attempttoexplainitanyway.Theperpetualcorrectionofthechild'suseofthelanguageisalsoa possibility.Chomskyisstatedtomentionhowthechildmayhavecertainerrorsbutthatthegeneral rulesofUGarehardlybrokenandareinnoneedofcorrection.CookdeemsisunlikelythatUG couldbelearnedthroughcorrection. Theproductionandcomprehensionofachild'slanguagearethoughttobedevelopedthrough manydifferentpossibilities.Cookdeciphersalotofthesepossibilities,allofwhichcomefromthe environmentofthechild.Oneofthegreatestpartsofachild'senvironment,thatiscloselyintegrated withlanguage,isthatofthesocialenvironmentandinteractionstherein.Theparentprovidesthemost ofthesebywayofcorrection,imitation,andapproval.Itisalsothoughtthatthegeneralcognitive developmentplaysapartinthelanguagelearningprocessaswell.CookdiscusseshowChomsky disagreeswiththisandhowmanyalternativestoinnatenessareinsufficient.Thefinalconclusiondrawn isthatUGisderivedfromthehumanmind.Themindisnotablankslatewhenitisbornintothe languagebasedsocialenvironmentofthisworld.Themindisalreadysuitedwiththetoolsnecessary forlanguageacquisitionandcommunication.Whenalanguageislearneditislearnedthroughtheuse ofUG.Experienceprovidesthespecificsettingsandparametersofthelanguage. ThefactthattherequiredtoolsofUGforlearningalanguagearealreadyintactmakethem physical.Cooktalksoftheseinnateabilitiesbeingpassedonthroughinheritancebygenetics.Itisalso thoughtthatthelanguage'organ'ofthebrainissomethinguniquetoonlyhumanbeings.The parametersthatneedtobeenteredintotheseinnatestructuresofthehumanbrainthroughlife experiencesaredividedintothreelogicalpossibilities.Thesepossibilitiesarecreatedthroughthe conceptofswitchesasparameters.Thethreeare:aneutralswitchposition,anonprodrop,anda prodrop.Veryfewotherparametershavebeenentitledtosignificantresearchorthought.Oneof theseothersisthePrincipleBranchingDirection.Thisinvolveshowcertainthingsareconstructedin thelanguagelikerelativeclauseswithinphrases. ThisreadingcoversanincredibleamountofinformationsurroundingtheconceptofUG.Itis saidtowardstheendthatotherpossibilitiesofthebehaviorofUGarestillpossible.Onesimpleideais thatUGcanmatureovertime.AlsothatmaybeUGisunavailableafteracertainage.Nomatterthe otherwaysUGisusedandperceived,Cookbelievesitexistsanddoesexistpriortoexperience nonetheless.Becausegrammarissocomplexandfullofcountlessdynamics,itmustbeexplainedby somesortofpriorexistenceandunderstandinginthemind.Thisanalysisofinformationsurrounding languageacquisitionseemsextremelyvaluabletowardsfirstlanguageacquisition.Thetheories presentedbehindUGareanimportantpartofcognitivelinguisticstudy.TheworkCookhas presentedcanonlybeanassettostudentsoflinguisticsanddefinitelyprovidegroundworkformany morestudiesrelatingtothesubject.Theonlynegativeaspectofitallisthatthereisstillsomuchthat canberesearchedandstudiedintheareaoflanguageacquisition.Ihopeforresearchintheseareasto

continue.

Bibliography Cook,V.J.1988.ChomskysUniversalGrammar:Anintroduction(Chapter3Firstlanguage acquisitionp.5585).Cambridge,MA:BasilBlackwell.