Parameter setting and input reduction

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The language acquisition procedure identifies certain properties of the target<br />grammar before others. The evidence from the input is processed in a stepwise<br />order. Section 1 equates that order and its typical effects with an order of<br />parameter setting. The question is how the acquisition procedure derives the<br />order from input evidence. Section 2 proposes a systematic input reduction for<br />functional categories as the key; the reduction residue contains no more than<br />a single non-acquired functional category (F?) that is first seen as an optional<br />element only. If that functional category has turned into the most preferred<br />option, the input reduction shifts its acquisition focus to the next functional<br />category. Section 3 and 4 demonstrate how quantitative proportions within the<br />child’s input reduction determine the underlying order as SOV in Dutch before<br />the V-second shift for root sentences is derived. The child’s input reductions are<br />claimed to follow from ignorance rather than from any <i>a priori </i>information.<br />It is argued that parameters are formal properties of the grammatical system<br />that originate as cultural discoveries made by a reflexive mind rather than<br />being task-specific neural <i>a prioris</i>. Section 5 suggests that this view can beextended to syntactic islands.


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