Universal Grammar and Word Order

  • Yen-Hui Audrey Li
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 19)


The ultimate goal of transformational generative grammar, from its inception (Chomsky 1957, 1965) to the present Government-Binding (GB) Theory (Chomsky 1981), has been to determine the structure of the language faculty that enables human beings to learn language. The principles at work in this language faculty must be general enough to encompass the thousands of different languages accessible to human beings. At the same time, it must be restrictive enough so that every human being can acquire a native language in just a few years, based on impoverished input. Therefore, the langauge faculty — that is, Universal Grammar — should have as few language-specific or construction-specific rules as possible. It should contain only general principles, making use of parameter settings to account for possible variations. Complexities in different languages are not due to complexities of different language- and construction-specific rules but are the result of different interactions between parameters and principles of Universal Grammar.


Word Order Constituent Structure Prepositional Phrase Adjacency Condition Case Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yen-Hui Audrey Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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