What are core linguistic properties?

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    There are two views about the distinction between core versus peripheral linguistic properties. Advocates of the theory of Universal Grammar contend that the difference between core and periphery is significant, with core properties having several characteristics that are not shared by peripheral constructions of individual human languages. By contrast, advocates of usage-based accounts of language contend that the distinction between core and periphery has little merit, since human languages differ so extensively, and the same mechanisms that language learners exploit in acquiring peripheral constructions also suffice in acquiring core properties of human languages. The purpose of this paper is to show that the defining characteristics of core linguistic properties are quite different on these different conceptions of human language. The distinction between core and periphery that is cited by critics of Universal Grammar is not the same as the distinction that has been advanced by advocates of Universal Grammar. Consequently, the core versus periphery distinction maintained by proponents of Universal Grammar escapes unscathed from the attacks of its critics. Of course, this leaves the core/periphery distinction open to assault but, hopefully, future criticism will be aimed at the right target.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationASCS09
    Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science
    EditorsWayne Christensen, Elizabeth Schier, John Sutton
    Place of PublicationNorth Ryde, NSW
    PublisherMacquarie Centre for Cognitive Science
    Number of pages5
    ISBN (Print)9780646529189
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    EventConference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (9th : 2009) - Sydney
    Duration: 30 Sep 20092 Oct 2009


    ConferenceConference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (9th : 2009)

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2009 by the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science. Publisher version archived with the permission of the Editor, ASCS09 : Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science. This copy is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission to reprint/republish this version for other uses must be obtained from the publisher.


    • core versus periphery
    • logic
    • language universals
    • child development
    • cross-linguistic research


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