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Studies in Formal Linguistics

Universal Patterns and Language Specific Parameters


Edited By Anna Bloch-Rozmej and Anna Bondaruk

This book investigates the nature and consequences of universal principles in four major grammar components, i.e. syntax, phonology, morphology and semantics. Language specific parameters are held responsible for the attested variation. The papers collected in this book analyse selected phenomena from English, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, and Polish, and shed new light on the interaction of universals and parameters in the structure of individual language systems. The generative framework is adopted as the theoretical model in the majority of contributions.

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The volume called “Studies in Formal Linguistics: Universal Patterns and Language Specific Parameters” is a collection of twelve papers whose common denominator is the search for universal principles in the natural language, on the one hand, and the exploration of parameters of variation among languages, on the other. The papers gathered in the volume cover a wide range of topics concerning syntax, phonology, morphology and semantics.

Universal principles that all languages share and parameters along which languages vary have constituted the core of syntactic theorising since the advent of the Principles and Parameters (P&P) approach of Chomsky (1981). In the Government and Binding (GB) Theory, universal principles, or principles of Universal Grammar (UG), had a rich and modular structure, and affected a number of subsystems of human language, such as the Binding Theory, the Case Theory, the Control Theory, etc. The parameters, in turn, were perceived as choices on the range of possibilities admitted by the universal principles. In other words, in the GB era, universal principles were parametrised. As a result, the language variation was encoded in universal principles, or, in other words, was “hardwired in UG” (Gallego 2011: 527). In the GB model, a single parameter setting had a wide range of consequences, commonly referred to as ‘clustering effects’ (cf. Gallego 2011: 527–528; Fábregas et al. 2015: 5–9). Since parameters were nothing more than relativised principles, Kayne (2000) observes that “the study of syntactic parameters and the study of...

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