Third Factors and the Performance Interface in Language Design


  • Andreas Trotzke
  • Markus Bader
  • Lyn Frazier


This paper shows that systematic properties of performance systems can play an important role within the biolinguistic perspective on language by providing third-factor explanations for crucial design features of human language. In particular, it is demonstrated that the performance interface in language design contributes to the biolinguistic research program in three ways: (i) it can provide additional support for current views on UG, as shown in the context of complex center-embedding; (ii) it can revise current conceptions of UG by relegating widely assumed grammatical constraints to properties of the performance systems, as pointed out in the context of lin-ear ordering; (iii) it can contribute to explaining heretofore unexplained data that are disallowed by the grammar, but can be explained by systematic properties of the performance systems.