Universal Grammar Theory and Language Acquisition: Evidence from the Null Subject Parameter

Naif Alsaedi

Abstract


This article introduces the Universal-Grammar-based (UG) theory of language acquisition. It focuses on parameters, both as a theoretical construct and in relation to first-language acquisition (L1A). The null subject parameter is used to illustrate how languages vary and explain how a child’s grammar develops into adult grammar over time. The article is structured as follows: the first section outlines crucial ideas that are relevant to language acquisition in generative linguistics, such as the notions of competence, performance, critical period, and language faculty. Section two introduces and discusses the content of language faculty from the perspectives of the Principles and Parameters Theory and the Minimalist Program for Linguistic Theory. This section also briefly describes the contrast among languages in regard to whether or not they allow empty categories in subject position in finite clauses. The third section first discusses how children are hypothesised to acquire their native language (L1). Then, in light of findings from the early null subject phenomenon, this section empirically examines the content of grammars that are developed by children at various developmental stages until they acquire the appropriate value for the null subject parameter. The final section highlights the important role of UG theory to L1A.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v9i3.11159

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