Universal Grammar: Wittgenstein versus Chomsky

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The motivations for the claim that language is innate are, for many, quite straightforward. The innateness of language is seen as the only way to solve the so-called 'logical problem of language acquisition': the mismatch between linguistic input and linguistic output. In this paper, I begin by unravelling several strands of the nativist argument, offering replies as I go along. I then give an outline of Wittgenstein's view of language acquisition, showing how it renders otiose problems posed by nativists like Chomsky – not least by means of Wittgenstein's own brand of grammar which, unlike Chomsky's, does not reside in the brain, but in our practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to Wittgenstein on Education:
Subtitle of host publicationPedagogical Investigations
EditorsM.A. Peters, J. Stickney
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-10-3136-6
ISBN (Print)978-981-10-3134-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Wittgenstein
  • Chomsky
  • language acquisitition
  • nativism
  • training
  • universal grammar


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