Universal Grammar and Chaos/Complexity Theory: Where Do They Meet And Where Do They Cross?

Document Type: Original Article


Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages, Islamic Azad University, South Tehran Branch. Tehran,Iran


The present study begins by sketching "Chaos/Complexity Theory" (C/CT) and its applica-tion to the nature of language and language acquisition. Then, the theory of "Universal Grammar" (UG) is explicated with an eye to C/CT. Firstly, it is revealed that CCT may or may not be allied with a theory of language acquisition that takes UG as the initial state of language acquisition for granted. To compound the problem, even those C/CT theorists who adhere to UG conceptualize it differently from Chomsky to meet the conditions set forth in C/CT, and dismiss the idea of studying language acquisition without leaving room for inves-tigating language use. Secondly, it is argued that unlike Chomsky’s postulation of UG and generative grammar as mutational, C/CT theorists conceive of them as evolutionary phenom-ena. Thirdly, it is discussed that while advocates of UG, as a biologically predetermined state of the mind, believe that it has no analogue in other systems, C/CT proponents postulate their all-embracing theory as underlying all kinds of complex nonlinear systems operating in the world, of which language is only a case.