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Infant Language Development Essay

1641 words - 7 pages

Language is a communicative system of words and symbols unique to humans. The origins of language are still a mystery as fossil remains cannot speak. However, the rudiments of language can be inferred through studying linguistic development in children and the cognitive and communicative abilities of primates as discussed by Bridgeman (2003). This essay illustrates the skills infants have that will eventually help them to acquire language. The topics covered are firstly, the biological aspects, the contribution of the human brain to language development? Secondly, key theories of language development will be considered. Is the development innate? Is there a critical period? Thirdly, what must be learned? What are the rudiments infants must master? Finally, how important are the social aspects of language acquisition? Who else is involved in the linguistic development of the infant? Consideration of empirical evidence and academic view points from experts in the field of psychology will be given.
The vocal tract crucial to language acquisition would have been unable to develop unless the human brain evolved with it indicates Bridgman (2003). Speech production writes Carslon (2010) must have brain functionality to support and is a lateralised function. However in the main 90% of language production is left hemispheric. Thus the mechanical abilities are localised in the occipital, temporal and parietal lobes. Broca’s area allows speech production and Wernicke’s area accounts for the production of meaningful words. Aphasia in Broca’s area is indicative of slow and laboured dialogue production whilst Wernicke’s area allows fluidity and un-laboured vocalizations however, lacks grammatical sense. Through development the tongue and mouth changes, along with the position of the larynx, hence greater variety in the production of sounds. (Stoell-Gammon & Menn (1997) (as cited in Bjolrklund, 2005).
There are several theories regarding language development. Work by Chomsky, Piaget and Kuhl are critical. Studies by Chomsky, as examined by Albery, Chandler, Field, Jones, Messer, Moore and Sterling (2009); Deloache, Eisenberg & Siegler (2003) argued for the innateness of language acquisition due to its complexity. Development is assisted by a language acquisition device (LAD) and universal grammar both of which holding the propensity for commonalities throughout all languages. LAD is the key to the Syntax rule. The knowledge to master the rules is held unconsciously. Chomsky concludes exposure through auditory channels as being the only requirement for learning. Arguably Kuhl (2010) writes infantile exposure to language through auditory channels only, does not contribute effectively to learning indicating the importance of human interaction. Piaget, as discussed by Ault (1977) postulated language as not being part of the earliest stages of development. Signifying within sensorimotor stage, between birth and two years, the child’s development is too...

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