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    #1

    Help with dissertation about Universal Grammar / Innateness...

    Hello,
    So I'm currently trying to select an original topic for my MA dissertation, I have to get some stuff figured out BEFORE contacting a supervisor, that's why I need some help :)
    I'm interested in anything related to Chomsky's ideas, basically universal grammar and the innateness hypothesis, LAD etc.
    I need something specific to work on, and at the same time something that is not already overdone. For now I'm thinking about "Supporting the existence of UG by studying sign language in my country, or supporting UG through my arabic dialect here (if that's possible)
    what do you think about this? and please if anyone has another interesting idea feel free to tell, I wanna be sure I have great topic so I get accepted by a supervisor (it's a tough competition here)
    Thanks

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Help with dissertation about Universal Grammar / Innateness...

    Chomskys not in fashion at the moment; most modern students of linguistics have only been taught enough (often a caricature of what he actually wrote) to dismiss him out of hand, and get on with the Real Stuff advanced by Pinker or Halliday. I'd like to see Chomsky rehabilitated (!), but unless your supervisor is about 60 I doubt if they'll be keen.

    An interesting source book on this subject is Bach and Harms (eds): Universals in Linguistic Theory. - not sure of the date, but it's probably before the '70s.

    b

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    #3

    Re: Help with dissertation about Universal Grammar / Innateness...

    How does sign language support this?

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Help with dissertation about Universal Grammar / Innateness...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    How does sign language support this?
    Good question, but I have a feeling there might be an answer to it somewhere. I heard recently - no idea where - that Irish Sign Language was more like the Sign Language of <some-exotic-place-that-I-didn't-take-note-of> than it was to British Sign Language; because of its Gaelic roots, I suppose. And if sign language reflects the language spoken in the country where it's used, there's no reason to suppose that it won't reflect universals.

    b

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    #5

    Re: Help with dissertation about Universal Grammar / Innateness...

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Good question, but I have a feeling there might be an answer to it somewhere. I heard recently - no idea where - that Irish Sign Language was more like the Sign Language of <some-exotic-place-that-I-didn't-take-note-of> than it was to British Sign Language; because of its Gaelic roots, I suppose. And if sign language reflects the language spoken in the country where it's used, there's no reason to suppose that it won't reflect universals.

    b
    The intersesting thing about sign laguages is that they had pidgin variants in South-America. These pidgins evolved to fully grammatical languages with the second generation of their speakers, acquiring grammar rules as we find them in spoken languages. The fact that people with no notions of spoken languages do this, supports the existence of a UG.

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