How to Set Parameters: Arguments From Language Change

How to Set Parameters: Arguments From Language Change

by David Lightfoot

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Overview

How to Set Parameters: Arguments From Language Change by David Lightfoot

Over the past decade, generative grammarians have viewed language acquisition as a process of fixing option points or parameters defined in Universal Grammar. Here David Lightfoot addresses the crucial question of what it takes to set a parameter - of what kind of experience is needed to trigger the emergence of a natural kind of grammar. Lightfoot asserts that parameter setting is not sensitive to embedded material, and that it is triggered only by robust elements that are structurally simple. He observes that morphological properties play a significant role in setting parameters which have widespread syntactic effects. Using evidence from data on diachronic changes and from current work in syntactic theory, Lightfoot makes precise claims about the triggering experience that can explain a number of historical puzzles. He argues that the changes could have taken place in the way they did only if language acquisition proceeds on the basis of simple, unembedded experiences.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262620901
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 10/04/1993
Series: A Bradford Book
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author


David Lightfoot is Professor and Chairman of the Linguistics Department at the University of Maryland.

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