Commentary on Evans and Levinson, the myth of language universals Language diversity, cognitive universality

Title
Commentary on Evans and Levinson, the myth of language universals Language diversity, cognitive universality
Author(s)
이윤형Gordon, Peter C.[Gordon, Peter C.]Hendrick, Randall[Hendrick, Randall]Lee, Eunsuk[Lee, Eunsuk]
Keywords
NOUN PHRASE ACCESSIBILITY; THEMATIC ROLE INFORMATION; LINGUISTIC COMPLEXITY; RELATIVE CLAUSES; EYE-TRACKING; INTERFERENCE
Issue Date
201012
Publisher
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
Citation
LINGUA, v.120, no.12, pp.2695 - 2698
Abstract
Evans and Levinson's (2009) article claims that the assumption of Chomskyan generative linguistics that knowledge of natural language draws on a small inventory of principles with fixed parametric variation (i.e., Universal Grammar) is empirically untenable. We agree that the authors point out prima facie limitations of that approach, and we leave it to others to assess how well their criticisms survive closer scrutiny. Here we argue that Evans and Levinson (2009) overstate the dependence of current psycholinguistic research on the Chomskyan idea of Universal Grammar. To show this point, we review cross-linguistic research in sentence processing that shows the influence of two cognitive factors ambiguity and memory demands - on the form of complex sentences within different languages and of the relative ease of understanding different types of sentences within those languages. The complex sentences we focus on contain relative clauses, a construction that has been extensively studied by typologists working in the tradition that seeks conditional statistical generalizations about similarities between languages. We argue that Evans and Levinson do not present a proposal counter to classical claims in generative linguistics that is comprehensive and testable in this domain. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/YU.REPOSITORY/23256http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2010.03.028
ISSN
0024-3841
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문과대학 > 심리학과 > Articles
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