Chomsky and Signed Languages

In Nicholas Allott, Terje Lohndal & Georges Rey (eds.), A Companion to Chomsky. Wiley. pp. 364–376 (2021)
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Abstract

Chomsky's “revolution” and the revolution in sign language linguistics began around the same time, but they did not directly affect each other for a while. This chapter focuses on Chomsky‐inspired research on sign language grammar and the ways that the study of sign languages connects to theories of innateness, the two main ways that Chomsky's impact has been felt in sign linguistics. Chomsky's linguistic legacy has two primary arms: one in theories of syntax, and the other in theories of language acquisition. Chomsky's strong claim is that the input provided to young children acquiring their native language is too poor to constitute a complete inductive basis for general cognitive learning principles to succeed. Specifying the content of the “language acquisition device” has been a central concern of Chomskian linguistics.

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