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What are the processes of language acquisition.
However, it is first necessary to look at the meanings of these important terms and concepts: language skills, language acquisition and language development....
That such burden-shifting is endemic to discussions of linguistic nativism (the exchange in Ritter 2002 is illustrative) suggests to me that neither side in this debate has as yet fulfilled its obligations. Empiricists about language acquisition have ably identified a number of points of weakness in the Chomskyan case, but have only just begun to take on the demanding task of developing develop non-nativist learning theories, whether for language or anything much else. Nativists have rested content with hypotheses about language acquisition and innate knowledge that are based on plausible-seeming but largely unsubstantiated claims about what the pld contain, and about what children do and do not know and say.
Meaning of innateness hypothesis | FactMonster
Chomskyans typically take this point, conceding that the argument from the poverty of the stimulus is not apodeictic. Nonetheless, theyclaim, it's a very good argument, and the burden of proof belongs with their critics. After all, nativists have shown the falsity of the only non-nativist acquisition theories that are well-enough worked out to be empirically testable, namely, Skinnerian behaviorismand Popperian conjecture and refutation. In addition, they have proposed an alternative theory, Chomskyan nativism, which is more than adequate to account for the phenomena. In empirical science, this is all that they can reasonably be required to do. The fact thatthere might be other possible acquisition algorithms which might account for children's ability to learn language is neither here nor there; nativists are not required to argue against mere possibilities.
According to the research timeline conducted by Myles (2010), the theories of second language acquisition date back to 1957 when Skinner (i.e., the representative of modern behaviorism) proposes stimulus-operant-response (S-O-R) theory emphasizing imitation and habit-formation, which is then intensely critiqued by Chomsky asserting that children are born with ability to acquire language and they can create new sentences besides imitation....
Meaning of innateness hypothesis
Nativism is, of course, one possibility. Natural selection might havebuilt a specialized language faculty, containing inborn knowledge about language (e.g., knowledge of UG), which subsequently was selected for because it helped human children to acquire linguistic competence, and having linguistic competence enhanced our ancestors' fitness. A problem with this hypothesis, however, is that it is unclear how a language faculty containing innate representations of UG might have arisen in the human mind. One view is that the languagefaculty was built up piecemeal by natural selection. This approach underlies Pinker and Bloom's (1990) and Jackendoff's (1999) proposalsas to the adaptive functions of various grammatical features and devices. Other nativists, however, reject the adaptationist framework. For instance, Berwick 1998, has argued that efforts to explain the piecemeal development of knowledge of linguistic universals in our species may be unnecessary in light of the new, Minimalist conception of syntax (see Chomsky 1995). On this view, all parametric constraints and rules of syntax are consequences of a fundamental syntactic process called Merge: once Merge was in place, Berwick argues, the rest of UG automatically followed. Chomsky, taking another tack, has suggested that language is a ‘spandrel,’ a byproduct of other non-linguistically directed selective processes, such as “the increase in brain size and complexity” (1982:23). And finally Bickerton 1998, on yet another tack, posits a massive saltative episode in which large chunks of syntax emerged all at once, although this posit is implicitly withdrawn in Calvin and Bickerton 2000.
What does the existence of a sensitive period for language masterytell us about the innateness of language? In this section, we willlook at a case, namely phonological learning, in which the existenceof a sensitive period has received much press, and in which theinference from sensitivity to the existence of language-specificinnate information has been made explicitly (see Eimas 1975). One canargue that even in this case, the inference to linguistic nativism isweak.
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An essay on theories of first language acquisition
The Ur-language hypothesis is not, of course, inconsistent with linguistic nativism. However, if true, it does weaken any argument from the existence of universals to the innateness of linguistic knowledge. For if languages have a common ancestor, then it is possible to explain universals — even ones that seemstrange from a functional point of view — as being the result of our ancestors' having adopted a certain solution to a linguistic coordination problem. Like driving on the right side of the road, a solution once established may become entrenched, because the benefitsof everyone's conforming to the same rule outweigh the costs of changing to a different rule, and this may be so even if the new rulewere in some sense more ‘reasonable.’ Thus, even arbitrary or odd features of language can be explained historically, without positing either compelling functional considerations or inborn linguistic constraints.
Meaning of innateness medical term
One explanation is certainly the Chomskyan one that they are consequences of speakers' innate knowledge of UG. Another is that they derive from other, non-linguistically-specific features of cognition, such as memory or processing constraints (e.g., Berwick and Weinberg 1983 trace certain constraints on movement to limitations on parsing imposed by the structure of human memory). Yetanother is that they derive from universal demands of the communication situation (e.g., Sapir 1921, argued that the distinction between nouns and verbs arises from the fact that language is used to communicate propositions, hence needs a way to bring an object subject to mind and a way to say something about it).Finally, as Putnam 1971 speculated, universals might be relics of anancestral Ur-language from which all other languages evolved. This last hypothesis has generally been rejected as lacking in empirical support. However, recent findings in genetics and historical linguistics are converging to suggest that all human populations evolved from a small group migrating from Africa in the fairly recentpast, and that all human languages have probably evolved from the language spoken by that group. (Cavalli-Sforza 1997.)
The Critical Period for Language Acquisition and Feral Children
Lenneberg (1964, 1967) also argued that although language acquisitionis remarkably robust, in the sense that all normal (and many abnormal) children do it, it can occur unproblematically only during a ‘critical period’ — roughly, up to late childhoodor early puberty. On analogy with other supposedly innately specifiedprocesses like imprinting or visual development, Lenneberg used the existence of a critical period as further evidence that language possesses a proprietary basis in biology.
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