The Ecology of Languages
Lightfoot, David, 1945-
This paper discusses the life-cycle of languages: languages die, new languages are born, and languages undergo radical changes in form and structure. This paper considers three changes in the history of English: loss of split genitives, introduction of new inflectional categories, and loss of verb movement. The proposal is that these changes are the result of children’s reanalysis during language acquisition, based on the interaction between primary linguistic data and universal grammar. These processes of I-language reanalysis lead to the gradual emergence of new E-languages.
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