عنوان مقاله [English]
نویسنده [English]چکیده [English]
The focus of work in Chomsky’s generative grammar is to provide an answer to what he considers to undergird theorizing in linguistics (Chomsky, 1986). The first question to be addressed for this purpose is “what constitutes knowledge of language?” From a Chomskyan point of view, to know a language is to be in a specific mental state characterized by a certain cognitive structure consisting of a system of rules and principles. The second question fundamental to theorizing in linguistics is “How is knowledge of language acquired?” This question constitutes the logical problem of language acquisition, a special case of Plato’s problem. The answer provided by Chomsky throughout his writing is the innateness hypothesis, according to which human beings are endowed with some internal, unconscious knowledge of language known as language faculty. The theory of Universal Grammar (UG) is concerned with the nature of the initial state of this language faculty. UG provides an answer to the nature of a priori linguistic knowledge in terms of universals, a finite array of which are parameterized: hence the principles and parameters theory. It is through the interaction of the principles with the finitely valued parameters that both language universals and language variations are accounted for in Chomsky’s camp (Chomsky, 1993, 1995; Chomsky and Lasnik, 1993). A major attraction of UG is the provision of parameters which constrain the class of attainable grammars and specify the predetermined range that particular grammars fall within. One of the parameters set up by Chomsky (1982), following Pelmutter (1971), Taraldson (1970), Jaeggli (1982), and Rizzi (1982), is the null subject/ pro-drop parameter. This parameter “determines whether the subject of a clause can be suppressed. It has two values: either + pro-drop or pro-drop. According to UG, a pro-drop language, e.g. Persian and Italian, can have null-subject sentences, while non-pro-drop languages, like English and French, cannot. The aim of this paper is to present a critical analysis of the pro-drop parameter in terms of (1) the learnability of the pro-drop parameter, (2) the role of discoursal, pragmatic, and semantic factors in the acquisition of the pro-drop parameter, and (3) the simplistic bifurcation of languages into pro-drop and non-pro-drop.
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