chapter  3
32 Pages

Constraints on Structure: Evidence from American Sign Language Elissa L Newport

ByLanguage Learning

The general question I will consider in this chapter is this: Why are languages structured the way they are? What is it about human language users that leads to certain universal aspects of langauge design? The fact that there are universal patterns of language organization has been pointed out in recent times by linguists like Joseph Greenberg (1963, 1966) and, most notably, Noam Chomsky (1965, 1975). Chomsky has suggested that there are innate constraints on the forms human languages can take, constraints that arise from a special language faculty.