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Parameter is a notion in the theory of Universal Grammar and language acquisition. In Universal Grammar parameters specify certain options: the core-grammar of a specific language, then, is the result of the specific setting of these parameters.


The Head Parameter offers a choice between head-first (chosen in English) or head-last (chosen in Japanese), which means that the head of a syntactic constituent precedes or follows its complement. Parameter theory thus provides an explanation for systematic syntactic variation between languages, and puts restrictions on the number of choices which the language learner has to make.



  • Chomsky, N. 1986a. Knowledge of language: its nature, origin and use, Praeger, New York.
  • Chomsky, N. 1981. Lectures on Government and Binding, Foris, Dordrecht.
  • Roeper, T and E. Williams (eds.) 1987. Parameter Setting, Reidel, Kluwer:Dordrecht.