Explaining natural morphosyntax. The continuing debate
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Explaining natural morphosyntax. The continuing debate

About the Book

  Morphosyntax, or grammar, is a major component of language. However, its functioning and learning have yet to be convincingly explained. The manuscript analyses various reasons for this state of affairs. Rejecting the nativist theories proposed previously as devoid of factual support, it proposes a new explanatory model. A key feature of the model is the integration of a formal system, dealing with the hierarchical aspects of language, and a semantic one, involved in the construction of syntactic patterns. It is suggested that the two systems are acquired implicitly and that implicit language learning mechanisms can be impaired in some language disorders.

About the Author

Jean Adolphe Rondal
Jean Adolphe Rondal

 Jean Adolphe Rondal received a PhD in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and a doctorate in Language Sciences from the University of Paris-V René-Descartes-Sorbonne. He is Emeritus Professor of Psycholinguistics of the University of Liège, Belgium. His publications include 400 journal articles and book chapters, and 79 books on questions of language psychology, linguistics, cognitive and language development, and developmental language disorders. Particularly noticeable in this regard are Adult-child Interaction and the Process of Language Acquisition (Praeger Press, 1985), Exceptional Language Development in Down Syndrome (Cambridge University Press, 1995), and an edited book entitled Neurocognitive Rehabilitation of Down Syndrome (Cambridge University Press, 2011). His current research interests and writings relate to the learning of morphosyntax.

Table of Contents






1.1. Structural linguistics

1.1.1. Formal classes

1.1.2. Functional classes

1.2. Generative linguistics

1.2.1. Chomsky’s ideas

1.2.2. The independence of syntax

1.2.3. Evolution of generative linguistics


2.1. Experiments on transformational and generative grammar

2.2. The modularity hypothesis


3.1. Acceptability judgements

3.2. People’s grammatical knowledge

3.3. The innateness issue

3.4. The learnability question

3.5. Brain representations



5.1. Chafe’s and related models

5.2. Generality of semantic relations


6.1. Semantic-relational system

6.1.1 Semantic-syntactic patterning

6.1.2. Grammatical morphology as a self-editing process

6.2. Formal morphosyntactic system


7.1. Conceptualizing implicit learning

7.2. Implicit learning of natural morphosyntax

7.2.1. Syntactic learning Semantic-relational framework Formal syntactic learning

7.2.2. Learning grammatical morphology

7.3. Devoted memory systems

7.4. Developmental language disorders

7.4.1. Specific language impairment

7.4.2. Cognitive handicap



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