The Acquisition of Language: Evidence in Syntax

  • Jakov Proroković
  • Frane Malenica


This paper aims to discuss the two main approaches to language acquisition and present the main ideas behind the nativist and the usage-based account. The concomitant argument between the two sides has been present in linguistics ever since the proposal of innateness was provided by the paradigm of mainstream generative grammar (Chomsky 1965). In order to contribute to the ongoing discussion, we will attempt to outline the main challenges that the both theoretical strands are faced with and provide an overview of syntactic evidence provided by linguists whose work was devoted to understanding the mechanisms of language acquisition. Our goal is to analyze the insights provided by the phenomena such as syntactic bootstrapping, poverty of the stimulus, multiple argument realizations and non-canonical syntactic constructions and argue that integrating these findings into a usage-based framework (Tomasello 2000, 2003 - 2009) or various instances of Construction Grammar (Goldberg 1995 - 1996, Fillmore Kay - Fillmore 1999, van Trijp 2016, Steels 2011, inter alia) provides a more plausible and comprehensive explanation of the processes responsible for language acquisition.
May 19, 2017
How to Cite
PROROKOVIĆ, Jakov; MALENICA, Frane. The Acquisition of Language: Evidence in Syntax. European Journal of Language and Literature, [S.l.], v. 8, n. 1, p. 85-99, may 2017. ISSN 2411-4103. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 17 aug. 2017. doi: