Child Language Acquisition: Nature or Nurture?

1645 WordsApr 8, 20057 Pages
Child language acquisition: nature or nurture? (final version) Introduction The study of language development, one of the most fascinating human achievements, has a long and rich history, extending over thousands of years (Chomsky, 2000). As the nature-versus-nurture argument is inevitable to arise whenever human behaviors are discussed, it is not surprising that language experts have debated the relative influences of genetics and the environment on language development (Hulit & Howard, 2002). Among the various proposals concerning the mechanisms involved in acquiring a language, two opposing theoretical positions, the behaviorist and the nativist, are the most prominent and influential ones (Ayoun, 2003; Garton & Pratt, 1998; Owens,…show more content…
Contributions of the nativist interpretation In contrast with the behaviorists, the nativists claim that individuals are genetically endowed with a specific facility for language that is realized with minimal assistance from the environment (Garton & Pratt, 1998). To better clarify the language acquisition development, the nativists have introduced two prominent and outstanding concepts: the universality of language among all human beings, known as universal grammar (UG), and the schedule by which it is required, regardless of cultural or other environmental variations, known as the language acquisition device (LAD). A close look at the UG One of the most compelling arguments for the nativist perspective is that language is essentially the same experience for all human beings, no matter what language they speak, where they are or how they interact with their models (Chomsky, 2000). As listeners and speakers of languages, we may be most impressed by their differences, but when languages are studied carefully, we discover many commonalities. All languages have rules to indicate the structural relationships among words in sentences. All languages distinguish between subjects and predicates and allow
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