Future Learners Need Learning Strategies

Prof. Dr. Hedde Zeijlstra

Professor at the Seminar for English Philology at the GeorgAugust-University in Göttingen, Germany
[email protected]


The rapid speed and ease with which young infants acquire their target languages has often been contrasted with the vast complexity of natural language syntax. In earlier versions of generative grammar, this has led to the postulation of a very rich version of Universal Grammar, known as Principles and Parameters (Baker 2001, Chomsky & Lasnik 1993). Contemporary research in language evolution has revealed that such a rich universal grammar is no longer tenable (Hauser et al. 2002). Instead, the prevailing idea is that language, underlyingly, needs to be much simpler than previously assumed (Chomsky 1995). In this talk, I will present an outline of the architecture of grammar that aims at exactly doing that. By taking lexical items not to be form-meaning pairs in the Saussurian sense but rather triples of phonological, semantic, and formal features, the syntactic component of grammar can be fully autonomous from sound/signs and meanings (Zeijlstra 2014). It is these formal features that drive sentence building, and a language learning child, as well as a language learning adult, needs to acquire which formal features a particular grammar manifests and how these features can exactly be combined into bigger phrases or clauses.

Keywords: Learners Need, learning Strategies, Syntax

Doi: 10.23918/vesal2022a2