In search of new ways to understand language variation, change and acquisition
From its inception, generative grammar centered on the descriptive and explanatory adequacy of the attained steady state in language learning but it also put at the center of the research agenda the explanation of "Plato's problem" (how come we acquire knowledge without explicit evidence or teaching). Thus, learnability was put and it used to be at the forefront of research in generative grammar in the early 1980s, with profound research on the Language Acquisition Device, Poverty of Stimulus, Universal Grammar, and the parametric options that it was open to (cf. Piattelli-Palmarini (1980), Lightfoot (1982)). However, we feel that the answer that the Principles and Parameters theory was providing to Plato's Problem is not satisfying anymore. The notion of parameter has been deeply discussed and even more, lately the availability of UG itself has been disputed in other traditions (cf., i.a. Elman et al. (1996), Clark & Lappin (2011)). Thus, we feel that after two decades in the background, learnability ought to make a come back in linguistic theorizing, and generative grammarians ought to take advantage of findings in other fields and linguistic traditions to rethink Plato's problem in a broader biolinguistic context.
With this goal in mind, we have organized a Summer Course that will address these issues with different points of view. Thus, the general goal of this course is to revisit the nature of Universal Grammar and the role of language learning strategies in shaping the acquired language, linguistic diversity and language change. Teachers/Presenters will include:
− Cedric Boeckx (ICREA/UB)
− Jennifer Culbertson (University of Rochester)
− Judit Gervain (CNRS/LPP)
− Aritz Irurtzun (CNRS/Iker)
− Guillermo Lorenzo (University of Oviedo)
− Kenny Smith (University of Edinburgh)
In addition to these speakers, we would like to invite anyone interested to submit an abstract for a dedicated poster session on any aspect of learnability and language variation that they are working on. We welcome contributions in language variation, language change, theoretical and empirical works on acquisition and learnability, pattern recognition, phonological bootstraping, etc.
Abstracts are invited for a poster session. As reviewing will be double-blind, abstracts should be anonymous; author's information should be submitted in the accompanying
e-mail. Please send your abstract (PDF format, two pages, including references and using a 12 pt. font type) to the co-organizers (cedric.boeckx["@"]ub.edu and aritz.irurtzun["@"]iker.cnrs.fr).
Deadline for abstract submission: March 20, 2012
Notification of acceptance: Early April, 2012
Workshop: June 25 - 26, 2012