Children learn language through exposure to the environment. However, Chomsky's most famous and controversial hypothesis is that the child brings resources to language learning beyond those used for other sorts of learning: he claims that the ability to learn language is in part a cognitive specialization of our species, a ‘Universal Grammar’ that is ‘wired into’ children's brains. This chapter is devoted to a fairly careful exegesis of the Universal Grammar hypothesis, the evidence for it, the arguments against it, and the tensions and challenges it presents to linguistic theory and the other disciplines on which it impinges. It is argued that a suitably nuanced version of the Universal Grammar hypothesis is supportable, and that it should continue to play the central role in linguistic investigation that it has enjoyed since Aspects.
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