Language Acquisition adn the Architecture of the Language Faculty

Peter Culicover

This paper explores the relationships between syntactic theory, the theory of language acquisition, and the course of language acquisition, viewed from a cognitive science perspective. The main questions that I will address are these:

I argue that the kinds of grammars that we are familiar with are not models of what is in the head; they are descriptions of its behavior to a certain degree of precision. So the course of development of this device cannot really be explained by the formal properties of the desceriptive apparatus. We need to give some explicit consideration to the architecture of the language faculty itself, and we need to be clear about the status of the grammatical description in our theory of the architecture. Of course, to the extent that a description of the sound/meaning correspondences of a language is a correct one, the description contributes to a fuller understanding of the nature of the learner's task.