Interesting. I’ve never heard of her, but that doesn’t mean anything. Considering that UBC is in the west, I don’t think it’s true that support for UG dies off as you go west.
UG is just a name for whatever it is in the brain that allows us to process language. There are several different proposals as to what UG actually is. And that professor’s view, that UG does not involve any language-specific properties, is certainly one out there. And, as I think I mentioned in a previous exchange, it’s the current view that Chomsky is more or less expressing in the minimalist program, although he would probably say “may” not involve any language-specific neural properties, at least as far as syntax goes.
Given that there are so many definitions of UG, and that theses definitions/theories have changed over the years, it’s not really much use talking about it unless you define your terms. If she really is arguing that UG is like a dogma, I’d be curious to hear which particular proposals she thinks people are dogmatically adhering to. I’m not sure anyone’s arguing that the brain reacts differently to language than it it does to other things, the question is just what neural systems it uses and whether these systems, or some of these systems, are specifically oriented to language.
There is a point of view that the human brain comes hard-wired with all kinds of specific and discrete neural systems, not just for language, but for all kinds of things. There is also an opposing view. While UG was originally used just as a kind of placeholder word for whatever it was in the brain that processes language, it has become associated with the view that the brain has many language-specific systems, or hard-wired “grammatical” knowledge that is particular to language.
The brain doesn’t just seek order out of the chaos of linguistic input, it creates order where there is none, as in the case of children creating grammatically complex creole languages out of pidgins, and deaf children spontaneously generating grammatically complex signed languages. This is some of the strongest evidence for a UG of some kind, in the sense of hard-wired linguistic knowledge.
My argument with you about UG has not been to dogmatically insist that UG is correct, it has been that I don’t think you really have a good understanding of current linguistic theory. I base that largely on the videos you made on the subject of linguistics, including the one you subsequently deleted. When linguists propose that children are born with some “grammar” already in their heads, I think that you think of the sort of grammar you find in grammar books, whereas linguists are talking about something else. You would have to read some linguistic theory to see what they’re talking about, but the basic ideas are things like Principles and Parameters in syntax. It’s not gammar in the way we normally think of grammar.
Why not take advantage of the opportunity there to discuss with someone whether or not your understanding of UG matches theirs? Particularly, you might want to ask for some examples of the type of “grammar” that constitutes UG. As I only have an undergraduate degree in linguistics, and I’m not a professional researcher, I take no position on the correctness of different theoretical proposals in linguistics, I’m just concerned that the discipline and its proposals be accurately represented.
At any rate, I’m glad that you seem to be getting a slightly higher opinion of linguists They can be a fun bunch!