Universal Grammar Agreement

One might object that since the time slots in the formulas can be filled with words or sentences, this approach assumes that the child knows something about the constituency. It`s true. Note, however, that in this context, the electoral district is understood differently: not as a feature of binary synactic trees with labeled nodes, but only as an understanding that certain combinations of words act as a unit when they fill a certain place in a formula. In the constructivist approach, the electorate is more of an emeritus feature of grammar than something that has existed from the beginning, and it is sometimes fluid and variable (cf. Langacker, 1997). Circumscription in this sense – that is, hierarchical organization – is a general feature of many cognitive structures and is not only found in language. The Universal Grammar (UG) hypothesis – the idea that human languages, however superficially different they may be, have some fundamental similarities and that they are due to unique innate principles for language: that there is only one human language deep within (Chomsky, 2000a, p. 7) – has enormous interest in linguistics, psychology, philosophy and other social and cognitive sciences. The dominant linguistic approach for nearly 50 years (Smith, 1999, p.

105: described it as “unassailable”) is now increasingly criticized by a large number of sources. In this article, I give a critical assessment of the UG approach. I say that there is little consensus on what the UG really is; whereas the arguments in favour of its existence are either irrelevant, circulating or on erroneous premises; and that there are fundamental problems with the way their proponents approach key issues in the theory of linguistics. The emphasis by generic linguists on universality has shifted attention to perhaps the most remarkable feature of human languages – their diversity. Whatever one thinks of the UG and the congenital hypothesis, it is undeniable that certain aspects of our knowledge – the lexicon, morphological classes, various idiosyncratic constructions, that is, what generic linguists sometimes call “periphery” – must be learned, precisely because they are particular and specific to certain languages. These aspects of our linguistic knowledge are no less complex (or, in some cases, much more complex) than the phenomena covered by “kern” grammar, and their mastery requires effective learning mechanisms. It is therefore possible that the cognitive mechanisms necessary to learn something about the periphery are sufficient to learn nuclear grammar (Menn, 1996); Culicover, 1999; Dąbrowska, 2000a). Musicological research has at times focused on the origins of music and the possibility of universalities in music.

Unfortunately, the search for comparative cultural research has become entangled with notions of cultural evolution and the supposed superiority of certain “developed” cultures (Nettl, 1983). Because of this association with ideas of cultural hegemony, ethnomusology has largely abandoned comparative research as inherently flawed, although some are beginning to reconsider the value of comparative work aimed at clarifying cultural influences in musical thought (Becker, 2004); Clayton, 2009; Nettl, 2000). There is a general consensus that something with the general form and function of “music” exists in all known human cultures, so the mere presence of music could be considered the first universal. But after that starting point, things become much less clear.. . .