Article published in:The Limits of Syntactic Variation
Edited by Theresa Biberauer
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 132] 2008
► pp. 483–515
Parameter setting and input reduction
The language acquisition procedure identifies certain properties of the targetgrammar before others. The evidence from the input is processed in a stepwiseorder. Section 1 equates that order and its typical effects with an order ofparameter setting. The question is how the acquisition procedure derives theorder from input evidence. Section 2 proposes a systematic input reduction forfunctional categories as the key; the reduction residue contains no more thana single non-acquired functional category (F?) that is first seen as an optionalelement only. If that functional category has turned into the most preferredoption, the input reduction shifts its acquisition focus to the next functionalcategory. Section 3 and 4 demonstrate how quantitative proportions within thechild’s input reduction determine the underlying order as SOV in Dutch beforethe V-second shift for root sentences is derived. The child’s input reductions areclaimed to follow from ignorance rather than from any a priori information.It is argued that parameters are formal properties of the grammatical systemthat originate as cultural discoveries made by a reflexive mind rather thanbeing task-specific neural a prioris. Section 5 suggests that this view can beextended to syntactic islands.
Published online: 17 September 2008
Cited by 3 other publications
Boeckx, Cedric, Evelina Leivada & Johan J. Bolhuis
Kampen, Jacqueline van
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