Determinist Inquiries: Debates on the Foundation of Language

Keivan Zahedi


The present article intends to discuss the important determinist traditions in linguistic thought and theorizing. It will show that (1) there is a significant language-internal approach to determinism and relativity introduced by Saussure and ignored by almost all language scholars; (2) the recent trend introduced by Chomsky within the generative enterprise known as the Minimalist Program has opened a new front which makes possible an attempt to be made with the aim to reconcile, yet not to fuse, the apparently conflicting and contradictory relativist and universalist approaches to language; (3) both the Saussurean and Chomskyan conceptions of ‘sentence,’ ‘creativity,’ and hence ‘language’ are misguided and misleading; and (4) we may suggest a minimalist version of Universal Grammar, called Unified Theory of Parameters (UTP) which on the one hand in pursuit of minimalist aims sets as its objective to dispense with ‘principles’ altogether and on the other hand allows no/bi-valuation possibilities for parameters. Such a version will accommodate a perspective from which nature—genetic/innate foundation of language is complementary to nurture—environmental forces of change and adaptation.

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International Journal of Criminology and Sociological Theory | ISSN : 1916-2782