Syntactic Theory and First Language Acquisition
Universal Grammar (UG) is a theory of both the fundamental principles for all possible languages and the language faculty in the "initial state" of the human organism. These two volumes approach the study of UG by joint, tightly linked studies of both linguistic theory and human competence for language acquisition. In particular, the volumes collect comparable studies across a number of different languages, carefully analyzed by a wide range of international scholars.
The issues surrounding cross-linguistic variation in "Heads, Projections, and Learnability" (Volume 1) and in "Binding, Dependencies, and Learnability" (Volume 2) are arguably the most fundamental in UG. How can principles of grammar be learned by general learning theory? What is biologically programmed in the human species in order to guarantee their learnability? What is the true linguistic representation for these areas of language knowledge? What universals exist across languages?
The two volumes summarize the most critical current proposals in each area, and offer both theoretical and empirical evidence bearing on them. Research on first language acquisition and formal learnability theory is placed at the center of debates relative to linguistic theory in each area. The convergence of research across several different disciplines -- linguistics, developmental psychology, and computer science -- represented in these volumes provides a paradigm example of cognitive science.