Research Seminar Series | New Insights from Old Connections or New Connections from Old Insights? Language Pathology, Faculty of Language & Universal Grammar

Presented by Associate Professor Kleanthes K. Grohmann, University of Cyprus & Cyprus Acquisition Team

Date: Thursday 10 November 2016

Time: 1-2pm

Location: Room 526, Level 5 Hughes building, North Terrace Campus

No RSVP required, all welcome!

Abstract: Universal Grammar (UG) denotes the species-specific faculty of language, presumed to be invariant across individuals. Over the years, it has shrunk from a full-blown set of principles and parameters to a much smaller set of properties, possibly as small as just containing the linguistic structure-building operation Merge, which in turn derives the uniquely human language property of recursion (Hauser et al., 2002). UG qua human faculty of language is further assumed to constitute the “optimal solution to minimal design specifications” (Chomsky, 2001: 1), a perfect system for language. Unfortunately, the human system or physiology does not always run perfectly smooth in an optimal fashion. There are malfunctions, misformations, and other aberrations throughout. The language system is no exception. The first part of this talk will build on Tsimpli et al. (in press) and present language pathology from the perspective of the underlying system: What can non-intact language tell us about UG? Particular emphasis will be put on evidence from Greek, and how the investigation of impaired (cognitive-) linguistic abilities from one language can inform the study at large — and how it can (not) shed light on the study of (an impaired) language faculty. The parentheses just employed may give an indication to the kinds of questions (and answers?) to be expected. If time permits, the presentation will continue showcasing some approaches to tackle these questions from research carried out by the Cyprus Acquisition Team. And, pushing the time constraints further, I finally will pick up a suggestion from Leivada (2015) and develop the Locus Preservation Hypothesis in joint work with Maria Kambanaros and Evelina Leivada, mainly from the perspective of impaired child Greek.

Speaker: Kleanthes K. Grohmann is Professor of Biolinguistics in the Department of English Studies at the University of Cyprus (UCY) and the Director of CAT, the Cyprus Acquisition Team (CAT Lab). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland (2000) and has published widely in the areas of syntactic theory, comparative syntax, language acquisition, impaired language, and multilingualism. Among the books he has written and (co-)edited are Understanding Minimalism (with N. Hornstein and J. Nunes, 2005, CUP), InterPhases (2009, OUP), and The Cambridge Handbook of Biolinguistics (with Cedric Boeckx, 2013, CUP). He is founding co-editor of the John Benjamins book series Language Faculty and Beyond and editor of the open-access journal Biolinguistics.

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