How Do Humans Acquire Language?

1332 Words Sep 13th, 2005 6 Pages
How Do Humans Acquire Language? Humans live in a world full of communication. Humans possess a native language that separates them from other animals. Language is developed within the first few years of a person's life. By the time one is a child; he can speak and understand almost as well as an adult. Children world-wide exhibit similar patterns of language acquisition even though they may be learning different languages. How humans learn even the most complicated languages has perplexed the minds of many scientists. Two of the most popular beliefs on language acquisition today are held by Skinner and Chomsky. Their opposing belief on how humans acquire language has become the two standard views on this complicated issue; however, …show more content…
Also, the language acquisition device provided infants with the ability to fix or deduce a theory for their native language. This is called the parameter setting, and is one of Chomsky's most well known ideas (374). Chomsky believes that the structure of language is not fully learned by experience but is in part at least embedded in the network of connections of the human brain (Fromkin 3). This idea confirms how children have the ability to acquire language on even slight exposure and without specific training. Pinker explains Chomsky's theory very clearly by summarizing that:
Virtually every sentence that a person utters or understands is a brand-new combination of words, appearing for the first time in the history of the universe. Therefore a language cannot be a repertoire of responses; the brain must contain a recipe or program that can build an unlimited set of sentences out of a finite list of words. The second fundamental fact us that children develop these complex grammars rapidly and without formal instruction and grow up to give consistent interpretations to novel sentence constructions that they have never before encountered. Therefore […] children must innately be equipped with a plan common to the grammars of all languages, a Universal Grammar, that tells them how to distill synaptic patterns out of the speech of their parents. (9)
His summary of Chomsky's fundamental facts about language explains the concept of