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Look Inside Transformational Grammar as a Theory of Language Acquisition

Transformational Grammar as a Theory of Language Acquisition
A Study in the Empirical Conceptual and Methodological Foundations of Contemporary Linguistics


Part of Cambridge Studies in Linguistics

  • Date Published: June 1973
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521097987

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About the Authors
  • The revolution in linguistic thought associated with the name of Professor Noam Chomsky centres on the theory of transformational generation, especially in grammar. This book subjects the main theory and some of its applications to a searching critique. It finds the theory in some places circular, in general descriptively inadequate, but above all aprioristic and dangerously unempirical. Professor Derwing writes as a linguist particularly interested in the psychology of language acquisition, and conscious that the TGG model starts from assumptions about the mind and linguistic universals which dictate the form and the consequences of the argument. They strike Professor Derwing as arbitrary and merely formal, and as contradicting basic scientific mental habits. In brief, Professor Derwing disputes that TGG exemplifies proper empirical scientific inquiry; that something like a TGG is part of the output of normal language acquisition; or that TGG provides a valid heuristic for psychological investigation. He argues therefore for a more experimental approach if we are actually to discover how language is acquired.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 1973
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521097987
    • length: 360 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Background:
    1. Introduction
    2. Some central aspects of the 'Chomskyan revolution' in American linguistics
    3. On the nature of language acquisition
    Part II. Linguistic Metatheory:
    4. Some problems in phonological description
    5. 'Explanation' and 'naturalness' in TGG
    6. Some process-oriented counterproposals
    Part III. Methodological and Conceptual Foundations:
    7. Chomsky's 'revolution' reconsidered
    8. On 'competence' and 'performance'
    9. Towards a redefinition of linguistic research

  • Author

    Bruce L. Derwing

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