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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Universal Grammar (UG) is a parametric system that establishes individual norms for language users. This is the sense in which UG is part of a competence theory instead of a performance theory. By establishing individual norms it does not control our linguistic behavior but acts as a kind of regulator that warns us when we diverge from an optimal set-point value. These warnings take the form of linguistic judgments. These linguistic judgments are surfacey—they don’t tell us what rules have been violated; they merely tell us when something is amiss, or which of two forms is more optimal. They are merely judgments of acceptability. While this approach leads us into the rule-following arguments of Wittgenstein and Kripke, those arguments can be defused if handled with care.

Keywords: Universal Grammar, competence, performance, individual norms, linguistic judgments, rule following, E-language, Ψ-language, linguistic parameters, linguistic behavior

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