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What is Language Development?Rationalist, empiricist, and pragmatist approaches to the acquisition of syntax$
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James Russell

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780198530862

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198530862.001.0001

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Syntactic nativism: language development within rationalism

Syntactic nativism: language development within rationalism

(p.85) Part 2 Syntactic nativism: language development within rationalism
What is Language Development?

James Russell

Oxford University Press

This section first describes the historical development of the Chomskyan theory, from ‘Syntactic Structures’ in the 1950s, to his current ‘Minimalist Programme’. On Minimalism, the nature of syntax is taken to be not a contingent adaptation to communicative needs but an inevitable, or ‘conceptually necessary’, solution to the problem of how thought and speech can be related. The case for this and the charge of ‘syntactocentrism’ levelled at Chomsky is discussed. The implications of Minimalism for developmental theory, with special reference to Martin Atkinson's ‘dynamic minimalism’ approach, are then set out. Finally, experimental studies broadly sympathetic to Chomskyan approaches, including Van der Lely's work on grammatical SLI (specific language impairment), are reviewed.

Keywords:   phrase structure, minimalist programme, dynamic minimalism, modularity, specific language impairment

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