The Acquisition Of Language And The Critical Period

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The Acquisition of Language and the Critical Period What is a critical period? It is a period in which a certain skill is believed to be most easily acquired, but is there one for the acquisition of language? The case study, “The Linguistic Development of Genie” (Curtiss, et al 1974) and paper “Maturational Constraints on Language Learning”(Newport, 1990) implicates that the theory of the critical period can apply for acquisition of language. The case study of Genie demonstrates an unfortunate but unique in which the hypothesized critical period for language acquisition was missed. It was hypothesized that Genie would not be able to acquire language at the age of 13 having grown past the critical period for language acquisition. The knowledge of Genie’s linguistic input is not known, it is only known that her father was intolerant of any noise made by her. This case studies Genie and how she progresses in terms of linguistic development. In the case of maturational constraints on language development, American Sign Language (ASL) users were used to study maturational constraints to explain the acquisition of language. The paper argues that the age of first exposure is vital to the development of language. The experiments test American Sign Language users with varying ages of first exposure but with equal amounts of experience, specifically 30 or more years of experience. The tests dealt with basic word order, the agreement between subject, object, and verb, use of verbal
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