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Routledge Enyclopedia of Language Teaching and Learning, 2nd Edition by Adelheid Hu, Michael Byram

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U

Universal grammar (UG)

Since the 1950s the developing theories of Noam Chomsky have been a major inspiration for linguistics. The first version was known as ‘transformational generative grammar’ after two key concepts: language should be described in explicit formal rules (generative) and these rules must be able to alter elements in the sentence in various ways (transformations). The later version became known as ‘Universal Grammar’ (UG) theory after the central claim that language should be looked at in universal terms, then as ‘principle and parameters’ theory after the way it described language through universal ‘principles’ that all languages obey, and variable ‘parameters’ that change from one language to another. Then it became the ‘Minimalist ...

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