Principles-and-Parameters Framework

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  • It is agreed that language has a genetic basis, but there is disagreement on what is innate and on whether what is innate is domain specific. The principles and parameters (P&P) framework holds that some domain-specific structural knowledge about the form of possible languages is innate or biologically determined.

    This means that children know that rules of languages respect structure dependency, that is, that syntactic rules do not refer to the position (first or second) in a sentence but to a hierarchical structure with higher and lower elements. This system of innate knowledge is called universal grammar (UG) and includes principles and parameters. These are general, abstract constraints—principles that hold in all human languages and are not learned. Parameters are switches that are turned on or ...

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