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The Place of Universal Grammar in the Study of Language and Mind: A Response to Dabrowska (2015)

Oliver Boxell
  • The Cognitive Science Institute, Unit 6, 611 Old Meridian Street, Greenwood, IN, 46143, United States of America
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2016-09-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2016-0017

Abstract

Generative Linguistics proposes that the human ability to produce and comprehend language is fundamentally underwritten by a uniquely linguistic innate system called Universal Grammar (UG). In her recent paper What is Universal Grammar, and has anyone seen it? Ewa Dabrowska reviews a range of evidence and argues against the idea of UG from a Cognitive Linguistics perspective. In the current paper, I take each of Dabrowska’s arguments in turn and attempt to show why they are not well founded, either because of flaws in her argumentation or because of a careful consideration of the available empirical evidence. I also attempt to demonstrate how evidence from the fields Dabrowska reviews actually supports the notion of UG. However, arguments are additionally presented in favor of integrating an understanding of domain-specific UG with an understanding of domain-general cognitive capacities in order to understand the language faculty completely.

Keywords: Universal Grammar; I-language; psycholinguistics; neurolinguistics; evolutionary linguistics; language acquisition

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About the article

Received: 2015-09-27

Accepted: 2016-08-02

Published Online: 2016-09-30


Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2016-0017.

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© 2016 Oliver Boxell. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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