Language Acquisition and the Form of the Grammar

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<i>Language Acquisition and the Form of the Grammar</i> attempts to re-think the ideal organization of the grammar, given its need to be learned. The book proposes a fundamental connection between the form of the adult grammar and the sequence of grammars which the child adopts in first language acquisition. Challenging the conventional division between language acquisition and syntax, this influential work constructs a new understanding of phrase structure, bringing syntactic data to bear on phrase structure composition. Two new phrase structure composition operations are proposed, Adjoin-&#945;, which adjoins adjuncts into the structure, and Project-&#945;, which fuses open class and closed class structures. The author also introduces the novel concept of subgrammars, successively larger grammars that take the child from the initial state to the adult grammar. This work will be of interest to those in the areas of syntax, language acquisition, learnability, and cognitive science in general.

Subjects: Generative linguistics; Language acquisition; Syntax

  • Affiliations: 1: NEC Research Institute, Princeton, NJ.

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