LANGUAGE BIOPROGRAM HYPOTHESIS PDF

Information based on and adapted from Sebba, LBH is a theory concerned exclusively with the origin of creoles. LBH is a universalist approach to creole genesis. It is concerned with creoles which are the result of abrupt creolization , i.

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Salikoko S. Mufwene Hypothesis: Hints from Tazie 4. I argue that it is more adequate to interpret the concept as a "genetic pro- gram," a kind of biological clock that determines when particular aspects of gram- mar develop in child language.

Relating the notion, as Bickerton does, to Chomsky's Universal Grammar UG and the core versus periphery distinction, I argue that my reinterpretation of this concept suggests an alternative construal of Chomsky's distinction in terms of essential or more critical grammatical components and distinctions versus secondary or less critical ones, which sheds interesting light not only on the general architecture of language but also on language development.

I submit that this reinterpretation is more consistent with language-development facts. I interpret my data as suggesting that creoles 1 and child language are alike in retaining and developing from the most central and critical components of the architecture and selecting typically the least marked typological options available to the learner.

Bickerton intro- duced the concept Language Bioprogram, analogizing it with "a bioprogram for human and other species physical development. Mufwene Language Bioprogram Hypothesis," has alternated in linguistics with others such as "language acquisition device" older , "biological blueprint" for language , "genetic program," "language faculty" translated from Saussure's "faculte de lan- guage" , and "biological endowment for language. He also relates it to Piaget , whose conclusions he does not espouse, and uses not only some of the above alternative terms but also explanations such as "development Bickerton , while not abandoning this particular perspective, makes a stronger association with the theoretical linguistic concepts of Universal Grammar UG and Core Grammar CG , which have also been associated with biology and language acquisition and have become central in accounting for param- eters and principles in grammar since Chomsky I reproduce them below, quoting especially Bickerton and Chomsky , 2 in order to specify the particular aspects of the concepts I address in this chapter.

It must be borne in mind that in the literature there is really no crisp, explicit definition of what UG denotes. UG is presented as "the theory of S0 ," from which, "given appropriate experience, this [language] faculty passes Via the input of the experience of one particular language this [internal unconscious] knowledge [of lan- guage] can be implemented.

Before I get to this, however, it will help to note some other things about this construct. These parametric settings are responsible for typological classifications.

Gflanguages as, for instance, SVO, SOV, and so on not precluding mixed typologi- cal systems , or as agglutinating, synthetic, or isolating-among several possible, 6ough putatively finite, number of parameters. On this view, what is referred here as the bioprogram grammar would simply constitute the list of preferred settings that the child, in the absence of contrary evidence, would assume to be appropriate. Thus UG specifies not only parameters on which individual!

I find this position empirically verifiable and discuss it below against Tazie's child language data. Bickerton gives one characterization of unmarked versus marked forms as the distinction between "forms that no language can possibly do without and forms that it is highly convenient to have, but which are not, strictly speaking, essential to a language" , From this perspective, I will diverge from the original concerns of GB theory and verify Bickerton's claims against data from Tazie.

Mufwene similarities that obtain between child language and radical-creoles' grammars. How- ever, this does not necessarily suggest that creoles were created by children. More and more newcomers were "seasoned" by noncreoles 5 and learned already- restructured varieties that were different from the native systems Chaudenson , , , Baker , ; Mufwene b, b, a, b.

In the process, they restructured the local varieties even further. This dilemma is difficult to resolve here, but Bickerton has made children critical to creole genesis by claiming that only they have access to the bioprogram qua UG. Tazie's data allow a concrete comparison of facts, independently of the light they shed on the role of UG in language development.

For instance, I show that regarding markedness, which affects the selection of forms, the values Tazie assigns to the alternatives available to her could not be context-independent, just as in the choices made by those who developed creoles, whereas sensitivity to the factors regulating her assignments of values may quite well be biologically preprogrammed.

However, the late development in Tazie's speech of some aspectual distinctions so common in creole systems may cast doubt on Bickerton's position. Before getting more deeply into the debate, I briefly review the core characteristics that Bickerton originally predicated of his biologically programmed grammar BG. Occasionally, I have reformulated his statements to make his case more plausible to myself, based on what Gullah and Jamaican Creole data suggest. The order in which the features are presented does not reflect ranking by importance.

If it is relevant, this aspect of the problem has not been addressed yet in the literature. Adjectives and prepositions putatively become verbs when heading a Predi- cate Phrase PredP , as in Jaan sik 'John [is] sick' and Jaan ben ami yaad 'John [was] at my house' in Jamaican Creole with ben treated as an anterior tense marker. My position, which does not quite contradict Bickerton's observation, is that the creole sentence does not require a verb phrase VP as a constituent but works well with the syntactic category ofPredP, regardless of whether it is headed by a verb, adjective, or preposition Mufwene a, b.

This reformulation allows us in fact to check which particular items are most likely to head PredPs in child or creole syntax and whether lexical categories such as adjectives and prepositions develop later than nouns and verbs. Used with no tense or aspect markers viz. There are more overt markers of aspect than of tense. It is not clear how signifi- cant this morphological feature is, except maybe in helping account for the develop- ment of serial predicate constructions, which I discuss below.

This complementizer is optional in some constructions-for instance, after want, start, and try in Gullah and after vie 'want, wish' and promet 'promise' in Haitian Creole. Where a complementizer corresponding to that in English may be to the ext1 expected, none is used; much of the responsibility for subordination is assumed by Hypothesi verb phrase serialization. Thus, in Jamaican Creole, the structure 1 proverb daag no nyam daag is understood as 'a dog does not eat dog meat ' or 'dogs Insofar do not eat dog meat ', and the subject refers generically whereas the object refers to America.

Here, as in the Jamaican Creole very good example, both generic and mass references are effected through the same non- to-upper It has an indefinite plural Dijkhoff , Since till whereas these other creoles do not. The creoles also allow some internal incon- Mrican-AI sistencies Mufwene b. The above idealizations are necessary evils that serve polylectali as helpful yardsticks in accounting for their typically variable structures.

Adone and Vainikka, this vol- calcategol ume. I limit the discussion to presenting the facts and showing how they support creole gali or dispute his claims, as well as to stating what the facts may suggest. Therefore, I diary ancl make little reference to the literature on child language, except to Radford and Because II Tomasello , who pose longitudinal considerations and linguistic questions that nately proi overlap significantly with mine.

I make more extensive comparisons with Tomasello will have: because his study was focused on one child, which makes his observations easier to i provide IIi compare with my findings. With interest more in me juice. I started in March , when Tazie was 20 months old, and stopped in January , when she was 30 months old. At that time, I was already deeply engaged in discussions of creole genesis and structures, and I considered the limited data I had available significant enough to address the questions I discuss here regarding the structure and function of the Language Bioprogram.

Insofar as Tazie's ethnolinguistic background is concerned, she is African- American, born in a middle-class family, of an African-American mother, a nurse quite fluent in middle-class English, and of a Congolese-born father, a professor, whose overall command of middle-class English has been generally acknowledged as very good by native speakers, except of course for the accent.

We lived in a middle- to-upper-middle-class neighborhood in Athens, Georgia, in which we talked very little with the neighbors almost all white , but we socialized frequently with white colleagues of the father and mother, as well as with 3everal other African-Americans of middle and lower classes not living in our neighborhood.

Tazie quickly identified her father's accent as foreign and usually trusted her mother more when it came to word pronunciation and idiomatic phrases. Since the age of 6 months to after the completion of the diary, she attended an all- African-American home daycare. By the time the diary started, she was developing polylectalism, like her mother, alternating between regular middle-class English and a mesolectal African-American speech which she typically used only with other kids at the daycare and, when upset, at home.

They are presented with the ages at which they were recorded in the diary and discussed in regard to their relevance to language-development issues. Because I paid more attention to types of phenomena than to tokens, I can unfortu- nately provide no statistics. Those who are particularly interested in such information will have to wait until studies that verify my observations in other children may provide some.

Mufwene Hyams The pronoun I was almost the only one used at this age, but by the age of 27 months, the pronominal paradigm was almost complete. Although adjectives behaved like verbs in predicative function, they were also used as noun modifiers, as in good girl, big girl, and big boy. The frequent attestations of verbs in inflected forms-as opposed to lack of such inflections on adjectives-argues against claiming that adjectives really become verbs in predicative function, even though the same verbal data do not show incontrovertibly that verbs change forms according to their tenses see section 4.

Unlike predicative simple verbs, which were later to be negated with donfdidn by 27 months, when sentence-internal nega- tion had developed; see section 4. Creoles to which these data are relevant lend support to the assumption that Tazie distinguished between verbs and adjectives. In creoles, adjectives may be used in the comparative form or modified by an intensity adverb in the predicative function in ways that verbs do not, as these examples from Gullah show: 1 a.

Jean run more 'n Faye. Jean da mos pretty. Jean run da mos. Note that more and da mos precede adjectives but follow verbs in this creole, as do their counterparts in other creoles. The evidence from Tazie suggests that in her early grammar she parsed her sentences into a subject argument NP , which may be null in imperatives and some statements with expletive subjects e.

The latter may be headed by a verb or nonverb adjective or preposition , and the head may or may not have NP complements. The copula, which is needed in adult English grammar to form a VP when the PredP is not headed by a verb M ufwene a, b , was not part of her early grammar yet.

This observation is empirically consistent with Bickerton's , BG, except of course for my position that nonverbal predicates do not become verbs and that in this early child syntax a sentence is not necessarily parsed into a subject argument and VP. In other words, there are PredPs that are not headed by verbs. By the age of 27 months, there were constructions such as that's a good boy, she 's sleeping, I 'm eating, in which what seems to be a contracted copula occurred, but there was no evidence of a full copula yet.

Whether or not interaction with other African-American kids had anything to do with this difference is debatable for several reasons. Second, her parents do not omit the copula. Third, she was developing fluent bilectalism. Making allowance for errors, she would have produced at least some constructions on the pattern of her parents while experiencing confusion of models.

One conceivable explanation is simply interindividual variation in the order that secondary features of language are acquired, even if language development started at the same age. In any case, these considerations do not affect the issue of whether or not Tazie's child grammar is consistent with Bickerton's BG. At 28 months, Tazie produced more and more constructions such as I'm cold, with what may be interpreted as the contracted copula, although examples of a missing copula were still common.

However, no full copula was attested yet. Tazie's emphatic negations were like No, it's not; No, you not, No, we not, with emphatic stress on not. You got to be good. Be cool, brothers. He is better than the girl is. I don't care who you are. Dad: That's not your book.

Tazie: Yes it is.

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Language bioprogram theory

The language bioprogram theory or language bioprogram hypothesis [1] LBH is a theory arguing that the structural similarities between different creole languages cannot be solely attributed to their superstrate and substrate languages. As articulated mostly by Derek Bickerton , [2] creolization occurs when the linguistic exposure of children in a community consists solely of a highly unstructured pidgin ; these children use their innate language capacity to transform the pidgin, which characteristically has high syntactic variability, [3] into a language with a highly structured grammar. As this capacity is universal, the grammars of these new languages have many similarities. By comparing Hawaiian Creole , Haitian Creole and Sranan , Bickerton identified twelve features which he believed to be integral to any creole: [ citation needed ].

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