Universal Grammar

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Universal Grammar

Post  angelacash on Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:33 pm

On Page 401 William O' Grady discusses......"intriguing aspect of of work within transfomational syntax is the emphasis on Universal Grammar (UG), the system of categories, operations, and principles that are shared by all languages." In my earlier reading I noticed the similarity with NMM in ASL and tone of voice in English. Meaning that in an ASL sentence when it is a YES/NO question the eyebrows are raised similar to if the question was asked in english the tone is raised at the end. Besides NMM and tones what are some other Universal Grammar operations that are shared between ASL & English?

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reason why this may be true

Post  Ann Neufeld001 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:25 pm

On Page 401 William O' Grady discusses......"intriguing aspect of of work within transfomational syntax is the emphasis on Universal Grammar (UG), the system of categories, operations, and principles that are shared by all languages." In my earlier reading I noticed the similarity with NMM in ASL and tone of voice in English. Meaning that in an ASL sentence when it is a YES/NO question the eyebrows are raised similar to if the question was asked in english the tone is raised at the end. Besides NMM and tones what are some other Universal Grammar operations that are shared between ASL & English?

On the next page, 402 give some reasons for this claim. The most compelling is:
"The first of these is a lexicon, or mental dictionary, that provides a list of the language's words along with information about their pronunciation, their from, and their meaning."

It also shares use and application. The phone, for example is universal in how it is used. Application, description, location, where, how and why it is used may be universal.

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Re: Universal Grammar

Post  Rafael Treviño on Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:41 pm

Universal Grammar is a theory of language proposed by Noam Chomsky, who is considered to be the father of modern linguistics. It actually goes far beyond NMMs and tone. What the Universal Grammar theory says is that humans have a predisposition to learn grammar, that is, to distinguish nouns from verbs, to distinguish "vocabulary" words (the lexicon) from functional words.

In terms of ASL, the lexicon primarily consists of the signs themselves. The "function words" are what help us distinguish the relationships between the signs we are using (such as the movements we use to indicate FOR-A-LONG-TIME or EVERY-[DAY]. Another, general, way to distinguish the lexical words from the functional words is that a language can incorporate new lexical items, but the functional words tend to be static. For example, I can come up with a new verb (lexical item) in English, such as "merp", but the inflections and function words I use with it will still be the same, such as "to merp," "I will merp," "They were merping," etc.) To illustrate this in ASL, think of the sign EMAIL (which is a relatively new sign, believe it or not). Although the sign (lexical item) itself is new, the movement (the functional part) I use to indicate I-EMAIL-YOU and YOU-EMAIL-ME is the same that ASL has always had.



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