Generative linguistics within the cognitive neuroscience of language

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Standard practice in linguistics often obscures the connection between theory and data, leading some to the conclusion that generative linguistics could not serve as the basis for a cognitive neuroscience of language. Here the foundations and methodology of generative grammar are clarified with the goal of explaining how generative theory already functions as a reasonable source of hypotheses about the representation and computation of language in the mind and brain. The claims of generative theory, as exemplified, e.g., within Chomsky's (2000) Minimalist Program, are contrasted with those of theories endorsing parallel architectures with independent systems of generative phonology, syntax and semantics. The single generative engine within Minimalist approaches rejects dual routes to linguistic representations, including possible extra-syntactic strategies for semantic structure-building. Clarification of the implications of this property of generative theory undermines the foundations of an autonomous psycholinguistics, as established in the 1970's, and brings linguistic theory back to the center of a unified cognitive neuroscience of language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-445
Number of pages17
JournalLinguistic Review
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - Dec 12 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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