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The Minimalist Program$
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Noam Chomsky

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262527347

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262527347.001.0001

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The Theory of Principles and Parameters

The Theory of Principles and Parameters

(p.11) 1 The Theory of Principles and Parameters
The Minimalist Program

Howard Lasnik

The MIT Press

This chapter discusses the kinds of work being pursued within the general principles-and-parameters model as well as some of the thinking that underlies and guides it. The theory of principles and parameters is a particular approach to classical problems of the study of language, guided by certain leading ideas that had been taking shape since the origins of modern generative grammar some forty years ago. The study of generative grammar has been guided by several fundamental problems, each with a traditional flavor. This chapter considers the two states of the language faculty, grammar and Universal Grammar (UG), the distinction between linguistic competence and linguistic performance, and the notion of “infinite use” in relation to competence and performance. It also describes structural descriptions (SDs), an infinite range of symbolic objects specified by a language, the conditions of descriptive adequacy and explanatory adequacy, and the levels of Phonetic Form, Logical Form, and D-Structure. Finally, it examines some properties of the lexicon, with particular emphasis on derivations and representations.

Keywords:   principles-and-parameters model, language, generative grammar, Universal Grammar, linguistic competence, linguistic performance, language faculty, lexicon, derivation, representation

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