Language Structure - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Communication and Information

This encyclopedia article consists of approximately 11 pages of information about Language Structure.
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Research History

Noam Chomsky (1957, 1965) suggests that children are born with knowledge of a universal grammar (i.e., a set of principles that are common to all languages) that can be applied to any language. This fundamental knowledge of languages is an individual's linguistic competence. The ability to use a given language in a particular situation is an individual's linguistic performance. Scholars can use linguistic performance as a resource for inferring the character of linguistic competence.

Chomsky observed that while there are a fixed number of phonemes (i.e., meaningfully discriminated smallest units of sound) and morphemes (i.e., meaningfully discriminated blocks of phonemes), humans can construct an infinite number of sentences. This suggests that in learning a language, individuals are learning rules for producing sentences, rather than learning sentences themselves. Actual sentences are referred to as "surface structures." From them, linguists can infer deep structures (i.e., the...

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This section contains 3,094 words
(approx. 11 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Language Structure Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Communication and Information
Language Structure from Encyclopedia of Communication and Information. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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