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Thursday, April 28, 2005


Message: 8501 From: Scott Thornbury Received: Fr Apr 29, 2005 8:22
Subject: Re: Scott''s alter ego and the ''lexically challenged''
In support of Rob's contention that "grammar has a lot to do with words", how about this: "In Chomsky's most recent work on Universal Grammar, called the Minimalist Program, he suggests that the [innate] language faculty consists of a computational procedure, which is virtually invariant across languages, and a lexicon. ... In this view, languages are different from one another only because their lexicons are different, and all that language acquisition involves is the learning of the lexicon" (Mitchell and Myles, Second Language Learning Theories, 2nd edition, 1998, 2004, p. 66. Of course, learning the lexicon means learning function words and their associated phraseology, which (insofar as I understand this) contain all the parameter settings necessary to trigger what we call grammar. "The task facing children (or second language learners) is therefore to learn the lexicon of the language around them, as well as the settings of the parameters applying to that language. The idea is known as the 'lexical paramaterization hypothesis', and it suggests that the parameters are contained primarily in the functional categories [i.e.function words are their associated phraseology]" (ibid). Learn the words, and you get the grammar for free. S.


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