Linguistic Variation Yearbook 2003
  • ISSN 1568-1483
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9900
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The present paper addresses some foundational issues on the status of parametric linguistics, understood as a partially independent new branch of formal grammar and of the cognitive sciences more generally. Chomsky’s (1964) original three levels of adequacy are extended to five and it is then suggested that the theory of parameters, being able to deal with cultural variation, is in the best position to achieve adequacy at the fourth proposed level, one connected with historical explanations, and some methods to pursue this goal are proposed. The development of parametric linguistics is viewed as a major step toward the potential application of the Galilean style of formal grammar both to the study of linguistic history and to other domains of cognitive science and cultural anthropology.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): cognitive history; cultural variation; historical explanation; parameter
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