Syntactic Theory and First Language Acquisition

Cross-linguistic Perspectives -- Volume 1: Heads, Projections, and Learnability -- Volume 2: Binding, Dependencies, and Learnability

Edited by Vol.1Barbara Lust, Margarita Suer, John Whitman, Vol.2Barbara Lust, Gabriella Hermon

© 1994 – Psychology Press

536 pages

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Hardback: 9780805813500
pub: 1994-11-01
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About the Book

Universal Grammar (UG) is a theory of both the fundamental principles for all possible languages and the language faculty in the "initial state" of the human organism. These two volumes approach the study of UG by joint, tightly linked studies of both linguistic theory and human competence for language acquisition. In particular, the volumes collect comparable studies across a number of different languages, carefully analyzed by a wide range of international scholars.

The issues surrounding cross-linguistic variation in "Heads, Projections, and Learnability" (Volume 1) and in "Binding, Dependencies, and Learnability" (Volume 2) are arguably the most fundamental in UG. How can principles of grammar be learned by general learning theory? What is biologically programmed in the human species in order to guarantee their learnability? What is the true linguistic representation for these areas of language knowledge? What universals exist across languages?

The two volumes summarize the most critical current proposals in each area, and offer both theoretical and empirical evidence bearing on them. Research on first language acquisition and formal learnability theory is placed at the center of debates relative to linguistic theory in each area. The convergence of research across several different disciplines -- linguistics, developmental psychology, and computer science -- represented in these volumes provides a paradigm example of cognitive science.


"This is perhaps the most comprehensive and intelligible presentation of current first language acquisition theory within (and extending) a Principles and Parameters approach. the quality of the 39 papers is generally extremely high, and the editing is suburb….there is much in these volumes to interest second language researchers. Issues of learnability, language-specific versus universal proceses, and continuity pervade acquisition studies whether they focus on first or second language acquisition. And for those who wish to catch up on the trends in linguistic theory-driven first language, the very accessibility of these volumes makes them worth the investment….the reader will be rewarded both by a deepened understanding of the theory itself and by some trends and conclusions in this research."

Studies in Second Language Acquisition

"Since the origins of modern work in generative grammar, theory construction has adopted a framework that may be interpreted as an abstract model of acquisition, and it has been clear that research should proceed in close interaction with investigations of the actual process of language acquisition, each study informing the other. These volumes show how much progress has been made in recent years in turning this hope into a reality. They are an impressive contribution, which give a highly informative picture of the state of contemporary understanding, and should greatly stimulate and advance these interacting inquiries."

Noam Chomsky

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Table of Contents

Volume 1: Heads, Projections, and Learnability

Contents: B. Lust, I. Barbier, C. Foley, G. Hermon, S. Kapur, J. Kornfilt, Z. Nuñez del Prado, M. Suñer, J. Whitman, General Introduction: Syntactic Theory and First Language Acquisition: Cross-Linguistic Perspectives. J. Whitman, I. Barbier, K. Boser, S. Kapur, J. Kornfilt, B. Lust, Volume I Introduction: Constraining Structural Variation and the Acquisition Problem. Part I:Syntactic Foundations: Phrase Structure Principles and Parameters. C.-T.J. Huang, More on Chinese Word Order and Parametric Theory. L. Haegeman, Negative Heads and Negative Operators: The NEG Criterion. K. Hale, S.J. Keyser, Constraints on Argument Structure. Part II:Functional Categories and Phrase Structure in the Initial State. Section A:Heads and Projections in Morphosyntax. J. Grimshaw, Minimal Projection and Clause Structure. B. Lust, Functional Projection of CP and Phrase Structure Parameterization: An Argument for the Strong Continuity Hypothesis. K. Demuth, On the Underspecification of Functional Categories in Early Grammars. A. Radford, Tense and Agreement Variability in Child Grammars of English. Y. Otsu, Case-Marking Particles and Phrase Structure in Early Japanese Acquisition. J. Kornfilt, Some Remarks on the Interaction of Case and Word Order in Turkish: Implications for Acquisition. C. McKee, What You See Isn't Always What You Get. Section B:The V-2 Debate. J. Weissenborn, Constraining the Child's Grammar: Local Well-Formedness in the Development of Verb Movement in German and French. V. Deprez, Underspecification, Functional Projections, and Parameter Setting. J. Whitman, In Defense of the Strong Continuity Account of the Acquisition of Verb-Second. Part III:Learnability. L. Gleitman, H. Gleitman, A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words, But That's the Problem: The Role of Syntax in Vocabulary Acquisition. G. Chierchia, Syntactic Bootstrapping and the Acquisition of Noun Meanings: The Mass-Count Issue. S. Flynn, G. Martohardjono, Mapping from the Initial State to the Final State: The Separation of Universal Principles and Language-Specific Principles.

Volume 2: Binding, Dependencies, and Learnability

Contents: B. Lust, I. Barbier, C. Foley, G. Hermon, S. Kapur, J. Kornfilt, Z. Nuñez del Prado, M. Suñer, J. Whitman, General Introduction: Syntactic Theory and First Language Acquisition: Cross-Linguistic Perspectives. B. Lust, J. Kornfilt, G. Hermon, C. Foley, Z. Nuñez del Prado, S. Kapur, Introduction to Volume 2: Constraining Binding, Dependencies and Learnability: Principles or Parameters? Part I:Syntactic Foundations: Anaphora and Binding. J. Koster, Toward a New Theory of Anaphoric Binding. C-C.J. Tang, A Note on Relativized SUBJECT for Reflexives in Chinese. Y. Li, The Japanese Dialectal Zisin and Its Theoretical Implications: A Contrast with Chinese Ziji Yafei Li. G. Hermon, Long-Distance Reflexives in UG: Theoretical Approaches and Predictions for Acquisition. Part II:Lexical Anaphors and Pronouns. C. Jakubowicz, Reflexives in French and Danish: Morphology, Syntax, and Acquisition. R. Mazuka, B. Lust, When Is an Anaphor Not an Anaphor? D. Kaufman, Grammatical or Pragmatic: Will the Real Principle B Please Stand? C. Koster, Problems with Pronoun Acquisition. E. Reuland, Commentary: The Nonhomogeneity of Condition B and Related Issues. Part III:'Pro Drop'. L. Rizzi, Early Null Subjects and Root Null Subjects. V. Valian, Children's Postulation of Null Subjects: Parameter Setting and Language Acquisition. N. Hyams, Commentary: Null Subjects in Child Language and the Implications of Cross-Linguistic Variation. D. Lillo-Martin, Setting the Null Argument Parameters: Evidence from American Sign Language and Other Languages. A. Pierce, On the Differing Status of Subject Pronouns in French and English Child Language. C.S. Smith, Pragmatic Principles in Coreference. Part IV:WH- and Quantifier Scope. T. Roeper, J. De Villiers, Lexical Links in the Wh-Chain. Y-C. Chien, Structural Determinants of Quantifier Scope: An Experimental Study of Chinese First Language Acquisition. J. Whitman, Scope and Optionality: Comments on the Papers on Wh-Movement and Quantification. Part V:Learnability. J.D. Fodor, How to Obey the Subset Principle: Binding and Locality. D. Lightfoot, Degree-O Learnability. R. Clark, Finitude, Boundedness, and Complexity: Learnability and the Study of First Language Acquisition. S. Kapur, Some Applications of Formal Learning Theory Results to Natural Language Acquisition. A. Joshi, Commentary: Some Remarks on the Subset Principle.

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