There’s a fascinating interview in the Guardian’s Science Weekly Podcast with Daniel Everett, academic and linguist, who’s spent a lot of time working with the Pirahã people in the Amazon, and has concluded amongst other things, that his findings do not bear out Chomsky’s claims for Universal Grammar.
It should be pointed out that Everett has held these views and promulgated them for some time, this interview seems to have arisen in relation to Everett’s latest book: Cognitive Fire – Language as a cultural tool, in which Everett says he dissects and discards the arguments for UG before proposing an alternative model. Chomsky has apparently called Everett a charlatan and refuses to further discuss his work….
The interview with Everett takes up the first 15 minutes or so of the Science Weekly Podcast.
PS – the 65,000 verb forms is a quote from the interview – Everett points out that in English, most verbs have 9 different forms, but in Pirahã, they have 65,000. And you thought learning English was hard!!!!