The “grammar” in Universal Grammar: A biolinguistic clarification

Patrick C. Trettenbrein 1
  • 1 Language Development & Cognitive Science Unit, Department of English Studies, University of Graz, Heinrichstraße 36/II, 8010 Graz-Geidorf, Austria


This short piece addresses the confusion over terminology that has reigned, and partly still reigns, when it comes to the concept of Universal Grammar (UG). It is argued that whilst there might be changes in terminology and theory, conceptually UG cannot be eliminated. From a biolinguistic perspective, UG is not a hypothesis by any rational epistemological standard, but an axiom. Along these lines, the contemporary evolutionary perspective on the language faculty (FL) is briefly discussed to then argue that UG is necessarily part of FL in both a narrow and broad sense. Ultimately, regardless of terminology, UG is inevitably one of the factors determining the growth of FL.

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