The Importance Of Language Afquisition

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Chomsky suggested that children are born with ‘transformational grammar’ which is the ability to translate the surface structure of sentences into deeper meanings. That is to say, the arrangement of words in a sentence are translated into deeper meanings of those superficial words – the grammatical relationship between them is what makes human language acquisition distinct from any superficial communication that Chimps were using via ASL. Evidence for this comes from the speed at which language development in humans takes place. Language appears to develop naturally through the speech that the child hears and the order of language acquisition appears universal. Children’s speech errors are a case in point here, they are unlikely to ever hear the word ‘wented’ as a past tense of ‘went’ e.g. ‘I wented to the zoo with mummy’. This is the child’s attempt to use LAD to apply rules of grammar, a cognitively active process that was never apparent in any of the chimpanzee language studies. (Chomsky 1965)

However, there are limitations to this theory. Language is not simply a set of grammatical rules and children are able to understand and make sense of their world long before they are able to communicate that understanding. Hence it is probable that understanding and communication are learnt to form an information procession approach to language acquisition, rather than grammatical competence. Finally, the cognitive approach to language acquisition by Jean Piaget. The
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