FLA assignment 2 - Natalie Yu Tsz Sum (1155000186) LING3201...

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Natalie Yu Tsz Sum (1155000186) LING3201 First Language Acquisition Assignment 2 October 28, 2011. 1. (i) In Chomsky (1990), four problems are identified which are considered to be central to the study of language. What are they? 1. What is the system of knowledge incorporated in the mind/brain of a person who speaks and understands a particular language, and what constitutes the language that the person has mastered and knows? (=What is knowledge of language?) 2. How is this knowledge of language used in thought or expression of thought, in understanding in organizing behavior, or in such special uses of language as communication, and so on? (=How is the knowledge of language used?) 3. What are the physical mechanisms that exhibit the properties that we discover in the abstract investigation of language and its use, i.e. the physical mechanisms of the brain that are involved in the representation of knowledge and in accessing and processing this knowledge? 4. How the knowledge of language and ability to use it are acquired? (ii) What is Universal Grammar (UG)? Give two examples to illustrate what UG consists of. Which of the four questions raised by Chomsky are answered by investigations of UG? The theory of the initial state of the language acquisition device is sometimes called “universal grammar”, adapting a traditional term to a somewhat different conceptual framework. It is commonly assumed that universal grammar determines the class of attainable languages. It can be defined as the study of the conditions that must be met by the grammars of all human languages, and is taken to be a characterization of children’s pre-linguistic initial state and of the language faculty. One example given in the reading that illustrates what UG consists of is the work of Nina Hyams on the null subject property that distinguishes languages like French and English, in which subjects must be overtly expressed, from languages such as Italian and Spanish, in which the subject may be suppressed in the phonetic output. Hyams’ work indicates that at an early stage, all children treat their language as if it were a null subject language. The switch has what is called an “unmarked setting”, or the null subject parameter has an “unmarked value”. Second example is Sascha Felix’s argument against the no-growth theory on the basis of
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This note was uploaded on 03/21/2012 for the course LING 300 taught by Professor Anthropology during the Spring '12 term at Wisconsin Milwaukee.

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FLA assignment 2 - Natalie Yu Tsz Sum (1155000186) LING3201...

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