Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics



First Advisor



Underlying the dominant theory of language today is the assumption that language is innate to homo sapiens. Theoretical and analytic work at all levels of linguistic inquiry are predicated upon this assumption. The present study questions this assumption arguing instead that what is innate is a limited set of cognitive structures which interface man and his environment. It is suggested that man is heavily dependent upon these cognitive structures for knowledge about the external world. Further, it is assumed that language is a behavior by which man communicates to others a portion of what he has learned about his world including himself. For this reason, it is argued, language must be viewed as an admixture of informational components each of which is uniquely derived from a specific cognitive structure. Building on these assumptions, a model of language organization is developed which I have characterized as a cognitive model of linguistic structure. The model posits the existence of four major informational components or grammars which underlie and determine the organization of language. These are (1) the External Grammar, (2) the Internal Grammar, (3) the Intentional Grammar and (4) the Referential Grammar. After investigating some of the features of each of these component grammars, I apply the overall model to the analysis of selected problems in Tzeltal (Mayan) grammar for which established models have not provided insightful analyses.


Language, Literature and linguistics


Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Linguistics Commons