Universal Grammar and Core Grammar
Chomsky is a comfirmed, unrepentant idealist. He insists
on being interested only in the idealized, abstract concepts of a
universal grammar (the innate part formed by DNA) and idealized core
grammars (native languages as learned during childhood). Both of these
are clearly abstractions, as abstract as Jackendoff's concept
of Beethoven's Fifth symphony
Whatever is innate is clearly subject to genetic diversity.
Otherwise, evolution could not have created it (unless one believes
that the language system has reached
such a state of perfection that it no longer evolves). Chomsky states
his position that "borrowing, historical residues, inventions,
and so on" are to be disregarded and that they are not part of
the core grammar. But lexical variants are expected to vary from one
individual to the next anyway and, if these "borrowings, etc."
cause the speaker to construct a "non-standard" syntax, then
they should be examined with great intensity and devotion. Only in the
latter case could such variants be considered as outside of the native
language. But, given genetic diversity in the innate mechanisms, what
sense does it make to ask whether an individual syntactic variant
applies to one language or another?
Chomsky clearly has a larger buffer than I do for holding a number
of independent, self-contained, hypothetical, conceptual systems.
His "microworlds" can be deeply nested and he can easily
switch back and forth among them, comparing implications and postulating
interrelationships between them (creating new worlds as he goes).
It usually takes many readings before I know what he has in mind.
My usual response to this is to toss down the book in anger and