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In sum, while Roeper (1999), Kroch and Taylor (1997), and Yang (2003) argue that
the constant presence of incompatible sub-grammars in human language is responsible
for dialectal variation in adult grammars, diachronic language change, and variation in
L1 acquisition; we argue, in this paper, that it is also the primary source for optionality in
all stages of adult L2 acquisition.

Multiple Grammars Theory
The argument that we are all bilingual (universal bilingualism) has intuitive, empirical,
and technical dimensions. Several factors in modern linguistic theory make Multiple
Grammars inevitable: (i) Modularity – a variety of modules with different primitives:
thematic theory, binding theory, movement theory; (ii) Minimalist Rules – a vision of the
statement of rules that requires minimal representations; (iii) Lexicon – a lexicon whose
information is both idiosyncratic and carries partial representations of many modules;
(iv) Interfaces – interface requirements which must obey their own restrictive principles.
All of these factors will lead to the postulation of distinct sub-grammars within a given
It is valuable to bear in mind a non-idealized empirical dimension as well. It is
a fact that the majority of children in the world hear more than one language and
must assimilate, somehow, essentially incompatible information. Moreover, even
monolingual societies have languages that (a) are in transition and so carry ingredients of different grammar types, and (b) contain lexical items that carry idiosyncratic information with the seeds of other grammars within them. In a word, the
child is always faced with ‘contradictory information’ which must be resolved. We
argue that it is never the case that a child (as an idealized model) builds a uniform
set of rules that captures all of the information. In fact, the minimalist proposal
makes this virtually impossible. For instance, the suggestion by Chomsky (1995)
that there are no optional rules will immediately force a child to posit independent
rules, rather than generate a single rule with an optional part to capture two related
phenomena. If there are two rules, then one might ask how they can be both in the
same language or in the same grammar. The theory of Multiple Grammars responds
in part to an important formal requirement: Avoid complex rules. This is in the
spirit of modern minimalism. It means that rules with subcategories and complex
exceptions are difficult or impossible to formulate and therefore one’s grammar
must reject them. They favor, we argue, access to two sub-grammars within
a grammar. Ultimately, we expect to disallow other representational devices such
as angled brackets and indices (as proposed by Reuland, 2011). We will illustrate
this approach with four core sources of multiple sub-grammars that show that
the notion of Multiple Grammars can be completely explicit, although many areas
of the linguistic theory are themselves not explicit enough to carry out this