Universal grammar

Paul Pietroski, Norbert Hornstein

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter addresses how much of the mental apparatus required to acquire a grammar is due to a distinctively linguistic faculty, and how much is due to some combination of more general cognitive capacities, by discovering principles of Universal Grammar. Grammars are procedures that generate expressions in certain ways. To account for universal availability, the chapter assumes that humans have a mental capacity to acquire grammars of a certain kind, given exposure to speech that is symptomatic of those grammars. This human capacity is often called the Faculty of Language (FL). The input that FL uses, in producing particular grammars, is often called the primary linguistic data. The grammars that a linguist might inscribe on paper are taken to be models of hypothesized expression-generators, and language acquisition is viewed as a process of acquiring an expression-generator given a course of experience and a certain range of options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCurrent Controversies in Philosophy of Cognitive Science
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781000063080
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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