Chomsky and Knowledge of Language Essay

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The linguistic theory of Chomsky has changed the long, traditional way of studying language. The nature of knowledge, which is closely tied to human knowledge in general, makes it a logical step for Chomsky to generalize his theory to the study of the relation between language and the world-in particular, the study of truth and reference. But his theory has been controversial and his proposal of "innate ideas" has been resisted by some empiricists who characterize him as rationalist. In our view, these empiricists make a mistake. In the present paper we attend to his position regarding linguistics as a science of mind/brain, which we believe is an important aspect of his theory that has not been paid enough attention or understood by…show more content…
Language acquiring, in terms of I-language, corresponds to the change of a subject's mind/brain state. To know the language L is for the subject's (H's) mind/brain, initially to be in a state So, to be set to a certain state SL. (4) One task of the brain sciences will be to explain what it is about H's brain (in particular, its language faculty) that corresponds to H's knowing L. He makes an important hypothesis that universal grammar (UG). UG is a characterization of these innate principle of language faculty, I-language. (5) He then postulates some detailed structure of UG. It is a system of conditions on grammars, constraints on the form and interpretation of grammar at all levels, from the deep structures of syntax, through the transformational component, to the rules that interpret syntactic structures semantically and phonetically. The study of linguistic universals, which is classified as formal or substantive, is the study of the properties of UG for a natural language. (6) Substantive universals concern the vocabulary for the description of language and a formal linguistic universal involve the character of the rules that appear in grammars and the ways in which they can be interconnected. Language-acquisition device uses primary linguistic data as the empirical basis for language learning to meet explanatory adequacy that is defined in UG, and to select one of the potential grammars, which is permitted by UG.
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