Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation

Linguistics

An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: van der Auwera, Johan

6 Issues per year

Increased IMPACT FACTOR 2012: 0.658
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.718
Rank 72 out of 160 in category Linguistics in the 2012 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report/Social Sciences Edition
ERIH category 2011: INT1

VolumeIssuePage

Issues

Generative approaches to language learning

Sonja Eisenbeiß1

1University of Essex

Department of Linguistics, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom. E-mail:

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 47, Issue 2, Pages 273–310, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: 10.1515/LING.2009.011, March 2009

Publication History:
Received:
2005-05-24
Revised:
2008-01-11
Published Online:
2009-03-11

Abstract

All proponents of generative approaches to language learning argue that the syntactic knowledge which language learners acquire is underdetermined by the input. Therefore, they assume an innate language acquisition device which constrains the hypothesis space of children when they acquire their native language. However, it is still a matter of debate how general or domain-specific this acquisition mechanism is and whether it is fully available from the onset of language acquisition. This article provides an overview of the different answers that have been provided for these questions within generative linguistics. Moreover, it shows how the generative concept of “learning” has been applied to the acquisition of syntax, morphology, phonology and vocabulary, language processing, L2-acquisition, nontypical language development, creoles and language change. Finally, current developments, merits and problems of the generative approach to learning are discussed. The focus of this discussion will be on efforts to reduce assumptions about domain-specific innate predispositions for language learning.

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.