STUDIES AND RESEARCH ERNST L. MOERK AND NEIL WONG Since ancient times linguists have been impressed by the structure of language. In contrast to and in spite of influence from the atomistic-behavioristic psychology the structural position was, therefore, continuously upheld in linguistics (Bloomfield, 1933). Chomsky (1957) added a more dynamic aspect to this structural position and laid the foundations of what is presently known as 'generative grammar' (Chomsky, 1965, 1966; Katz and Postal, 1964). This insight into the structures of all verbal behavior and into the fact that the infant seems to learn 'deep structures', which are never observable in surface behavior, led to a sharp conflict with behavioristic psychologists who aimed at explaining language acquisition through imitation and reinforcement (Skinner, 1957; Staats, 1968). No mechanisms could be found or even imagined by which the infant could acquire the complex language skills which were required in the performance models of generative grammar. Consequently, the temptation to postulate innate language-specific organizations, McNeilFs (1970a) ''strong linguistic universals", as necessary bases for these miraculously appearing language structures was great and Chomsky (1966) as well as McNeill (1970b) turned towards this easy escape route. The unproductiveness of this pseudo-solution was soon recognized
Linguistics - An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences – de Gruyter
Published: Jan 1, 1976
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