KARYA DOSEN Fakultas Sastra UM, 2009

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Achmad Effendi Kadarisman


Abstract: Within the latest development of generative linguistics, Chomsky (1995) has proposed the so-called Minimalist Theory, better known as the Minimalist Program.  This theory is a revised version of the earlier Government Binding (GB) Theory (Chomsky 1981), which had gained world-wide recognition.  The present dynamics in the generative school, as they were during the 1960s and 1970s, are primarily engendered by two factors.  First, generative linguists aim to set up a linguistic theory that meets the two essential requirements: descriptive adequacy and explanatory adequacy.  Second, they aim to design a theory that is both simple and elegant.  With reference to the second requirement, the Minimalist Program is indeed more simple and elegant than the GB Theory or the Classical Generative Theory, the latter outlined in Chomsky’s Aspects (1965).

     Much like the GB Theory, the Minimalist Program is also a modular system.  That is, the system of grammar or linguistic competence consists of interrelated modules.  As an organized whole, these modules operate simultaneously on the basis of presumed innate principles.  This paper intends to give a concise description of Chomsky’s Minimalist Theory, pointing out at the same time its strengths and weaknesses.  This theory stands out for its greater power of generalization, and yet it lacks the capacity to explain some natural language data—namely, language not merely as a set of grammatical sentences, but also as a means of social communication reflecting sociocultural values of its speakers.  This limited capacity is due to the fact that the generativist approach is more theory-driven than data-driven.  As such, the Minimalist Theory has not met the requirement of explanatory adequacy, not even that of descriptive adequacy.

            Key words: Chomsky, Classical Generative Theory, GB Theory, the Minimalist Program, descriptive adequacy, explanatory adequacy.

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