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Chomsky e la biolinguistica. Dott. Elisa Pellegrino 7 dicembre 2011. Che cos’è la biolinguistica ?. Interrogativi della ricerca biolinguistica. What constitutes knowledge of language ? How is this knowledge acquired ? How is this knowledge put to use ?

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Chomsky e la biolinguistica

Chomsky e

la biolinguistica

Dott. Elisa Pellegrino

7 dicembre 2011

Che cos la biolinguistica
Che cos’è la biolinguistica?

Interrogativi della ricerca biolinguistica
Interrogativi della ricerca biolinguistica

  • Whatconstitutesknowledgeoflanguage?

  • Howisthisknowledgeacquired?

  • Howisthisknowledge put touse?

  • What are the relevantbrainmechanisms?

  • Howdidlanguage evolve in the species?

  • Jenkins, L. (2000) Biolinguistics. Exploring the biologyoflanguage

Interrogativi della ricerca biolinguistica1
Interrogativi della ricerca biolinguistica

  • What constitutes knowledge of language?

  • How is this knowledge acquired?

“Fifty years ago, a new approach began to take shape. The new approach regarded the faculty of language as an organ of the body, on a par with the visual system, the system of motor planning, the immune systems, and other subcomponents of the organism that interact in its growth and life. In this case, it is one of the “cognitive organs,” like the faculties of reasoning, interpretation, planning, and so on.

This “biolinguistic perspective,” as it came to be called, focuses on the traditional problem of determining the specific nature of the faculty of language, and reinterprets it as the problem of discovering the genetic endowment that underlies the acquisition and use of language”.

Chomsky, N. (2007), ), “Biolinguistic Explorations: Design, Development, Evolution” in International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 15 (1)

La critica al comportamentismo
La critica al comportamentismo…

“The so-called cognitive revolution […] stands in sharp contrast to the study of the shaping and control of behaviour that systematically avoided consideration of the states of the mind brain that enter into behaviour, and sought to establish direct relations between stimulus situation, contingencies of reinforcement and behaviour.”

Chomsky, N. (1999),p. 34.

Punti di critica
Punti di critica

  • No a spiegazioni delle cause del comportamento umano, prive di riferimento alla “struttura interna dell’organismo”;

  • No alla logica Stimolo-Rinforzo;

  • Impredicibilità del comportamento umano dalle sole variabili ambientali;

  • Creatività del linguaggio umano;

  • Rapidità e uniformità del processo di acquisizione

    “The fact that all normal children acquire essentially comparable grammars of great complexity with remarkable rapidity suggest that human beings are somehow specially designed to do this, with data handling or “hypothesis-formulating” ability of unknown character and complexity.”

    Chomsky (1959)

L acquisizione linguistica il problema di platone
L’acquisizione linguistica: il problema di Platone

“The question of how language is acquired is a special case of Plato’s problem:

How do we come to have such a rich and specific knowledge, or such intricate systems of belief and understanding, when the evidence available to us is so meagre?

Chomsky (1999), p.40

Povert dello stimolo pos
Povertà dello stimolo (POS)

I dati linguistici primari sono:

  • “degenerati” dal punto di vista grammaticale,

  • “finiti” sul piano quantitativo

  • “poveri” sul piano qualitativo

    “[…] for a substantial part of our mature linguistic knowledge noevidence exists in […] the primary linguistic data […]

    If no such data exist in the child’s experience, no inductive learning theory can suffice because there is no way that it can get started for these areas. […] the problem, put briefly, is not that data are inadequate but that for certain areas they do not exist at all.”

    Hornstein & Lightfoot, D. (1981), p.12.

Procedura pos
Procedura POS

  • “Step A. A native speaker knows X […]

  • Step B. X could not have been acquired from forms of evidence plausible available […]

  • Step C. X is not learnt […]

  • Step D. X is built-in to the mind.”

    Cook, V.J. (1991),pp.104-105.

Risposta al problema di platone
Risposta al Problema di Platone

- Reinterpretazione della teoria platonica della reminiscenza nei termini della dotazione genetica, determinante lo stato iniziale della Facoltà del linguaggio (FL)

«Recall that Plato had an answer to the problem he posed: We remember the knowledge we have from an earlier existence. This is not a proposal that we would nowadays be inclined to accept in exactly these terms […] To render Plato’s answer intelligible, we have to provide a mechanism by which our knowledge is remembered from an earlier existence. In modern terms, that means reconstructing Platonic “remembrance” in terms of the genetic endowment which specifies the initial state of the language faculty […]

La facolt del linguaggio s 0 s 0 lo stato iniziale di una capacit cognitiva
La Facoltà del linguaggio (S0)* *S0 = lo “stato iniziale” di una capacità cognitiva

  • Ipotesi innatista: discrimen tra gli esseri umani, gli animali e gli esseri inanimati

    “Well, the issue of innateness of language is a curious one [….] Lots of people reject the proposal that language is innate but nobody ever answer them […]. To say that ‘language is not innate’ is to say that there is no difference between my granddaughter, a rock and a rabbit. In other words, if you take a rock, a rabbit and my granddaughter and put the in a community where people are talking English, they all learn English. If people believe that, then they believe that language is not innate. If they believe that there is a difference between my granddaughter, a rabbit and a rock, then they believe that language is innate.”

    Chomsky, N. (2000), pp. 50-51.

La facolt del linguaggio s 0 e modularit della mente 1
La Facoltà del linguaggio (S0) e modularità della mente (1)

  • FL = componente della mente/cervello, “una componente della biologia umana che entra specificamente in gioco nell’uso e nell’acquisizione linguistica”

  • Modularità della mente (tabula inscripta =non rasa)

    - componenti innate,

    - specifiche per dominio,

    - regolate da principi di funzionamento propri

La facolt del linguaggio s 0 e modularit della mente 2
La Facoltà del linguaggio (S0) e modularità della mente (2)

“La caratteristica principale di una teoria modulare della mente è di ammettere la possibilità di studiare singolarmente i vari moduli, prescindendo largamente dal funzionamento degli altri.

Inoltre non si ha alcuna difficoltà ad ammettere che i principi sui quali si basa il funzionamento di un modulo non assomiglino affatto a quelli sui quali si basa il funzionamento di un altro modulo”

Piattelli Palmarini, M. (2003),p. 203

Specificit dei principi di funzionamento di ciascun modulo
Specificità dei principi di funzionamento di ciascun modulo

“The humanvisual system observescertainprinciples, just as the languagefacultydoes […]

They [principlesof the visual system and principlesof the languagefaculty] are ofcourseentirelydifferentprinciples.

The languagefacultydoesnot include the rigidityprinciples or the principlesthatgovernapparentmotion, and the visualfacultydoesnot include the principlesofbindingtheory, case theory, structuredependence, and so on.

The twosystems operate in quitedifferentways, notsurprisingly.”

Chomsky, N. (1988), pp.160-161

Approccio modularista di gallistel e fl
Approccio modularista di Gallistel e FL

“[…] the architecture of the mind is modular in the sense that Randy Gallistel recently described as “the norm these days in neuroscience”.

In Gallistel’s words, in all animals, learning is based on specialized “learning mechanisms”, “instinct to learn” in specific ways, these being essentially “organs within the brain [that] are neural circuits whose structure enables them to perform one particular kind of computation, as they do more or less reflexively apart from “extremely hostile environments”.

Apartfrom “extremelyhostileenvironments,” they [organswithin the brain] changestatesunder the triggering and shapingeffectofexternalfactors, more or lessreflexively, and in accordancewithinternal design”.

Stemmer, B. (1999), p.394.

Approccio modularista di r gallistel e fl
Approccio modularista di R.Gallistel e FL

  • Estensione della visione dei moduli di Gallistel alla FL

    “As far as I know, the approachGallistelrecommendsis sound; in the special case oflanguage, itseemsto me adoptedbyallsubstantiveinquiry, evenwhenthatitisheatedlydenied.

    Itis hard toavoid the conclusionthat a part ofhumanbiologicalendowmentis a specialized ‘languageorgan’, the facultyoflanguage.

    Chomsky (2002), p.85

Parallelismo tra moduli di gallistel e fl



Apart from “extremely hostile environments,” they [organs within the brain] change states under the triggering and shaping effect of external factors, more or less reflexively, and in accordance with internal design”

La FL soggetta ad una trasformazione, frutto dell’effetto combinato delle esperienze linguistiche individuali “innescanti” e “plasmanti” e di un processo di maturazione guidato dall’interno; quest’ultimo porta a stati successivi che tendono a stabilizzarsi in maniera pressoché definitiva intorno alla pubertà.

Parallelismo tra moduli di Gallistel e FL

Caratteristiche del processo di trasformazione della fl

Caratteristiche del processo di trasformazione della FL


“Language acquisition seems much like the growth of organs generally; it is something that happens to a child, not that child does.”

Data Driven

“The process of maturation from the initial state (S0)to the steady state is to some extent, data driven; exposed to data of English, the mind/brain will incorporate knowledge of English, not Japanese”

Chomsky, N. (1999), p.41.

Acquisizione del linguaggio
Acquisizione del linguaggio

Progressione dallo stato in cui non si conosce nessuna lingua (S0), al punto in cui se ne ha una piena competenza Ss, attraverso una serie di stati intermedi

“ […] we observe that a person proceeds from a genetically determined initial state S0 through a sequence of state S1, S2, …, finally reaching a steady state Ss which then seems to change only marginally […]”

Chomsky, N. (1980), p.37

Composizione della fl in s 0
Composizione della FL in S0

  • Principi universali

  • Parametri binari soggetti alla variazione

“We can think of the initial state of language as a fixed network connected to a switch box; the network is constituted of the principles of language, while the switches are options to be determined by the experience.”

Chomsky, N. (2000), p.57

Acquisizione della l 1


Grammatica L1

Condizioni ambientali




Acquisizione della L1

Dotazione genetica + Esperienza

“The triggeringexperiencecauses the genotypetodevelop in a phenotype; exposureto a rangeofutterancesfrom, say English allows the UG capacitytodevelopinto a particular mature grammar.”

Anderson & Lightfoot (2002), p.36

Chomsky e la biolinguistica
Modello acquisizionalechomskiano: congiunzione tra i modelli a “tabula rasa” e quelli a “tabula inscripta”