An experiment with English speakers with low or no exposure to other languages found what may be some support for Chomsky’s theory of grammar innateness, which has been questioned as of late.
The experiment performed by linguists of Johns Hopkins University found that, when taught an “alien” (artificial) language, humans found several word orders valid but others very hard to assume. So they would accept the following kind of constructions (all meaning three blue cups):
- Three blue cups
- Three cups blue
- Cups blue three
But not blue cups three. This kind of construction in which the adjective precedes the noun but the numeral is after it is extremely rare in real human languages and the experiment’s subjects found it also very awkward, having increased difficulty in learning it.
Source: Science Daily.