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Innateness Of Children’s Language Acquisition Essay

1497 words - 6 pages

The subtlety of language acquisition has been the most fundamental question in the study of linguistics and human development. From Bow-wow Theory to Yo-He-Ho Theory, major theories on the origins and learnability of language have emerged in mid-20th century and heavily debated ever since. Among them, the idea of universal grammar in which is usually credited to linguist Noam Chomsky, remains the most notable and controversial theory over time. He introduced and developed the theory from 1950s to 1970s, as he proposed and championed linguistic nativism in language acquisition. Chomsky supports that language mastery involves knowledge of linguistic rules and conventions, which he later named that as ‘cognizance’. He believes that cognizance is present in some particular regions in human’s brain where it inherently contributes to the acquisition and usage of language. Such language faculty is the initial root of all linguistic grammatical rules and principles; it is the mental archetype of all languages. To begin with, Chomsky chooses to focus on children’s acquisition of language because children have the least pre-existing knowledge of language compared to adults. Children, in this case, are the primal study in the innateness of language. By looking into children’s interaction in language acquisition, Chomsky reasons his arguments with “primary linguistic data” where Primary linguistic data is the first-ever language experience in childhood. This learning experience simultaneously interacts and activates the initial cognizance of children, resulting to one’s linguistic knowledge from the exposed language. It is the crucial knowledge for the comprehension of speech and language. By studying children’s language acquisition, it is irrefutably true that innateness is much more than a hypothesis; it is the real and intricate system hard-wired to human’s brain which makes human communication uniquely possible.
First and foremost, despite the socio-cultural or genetic difference of children’s learning background, language development is emerged in around the same period of childhood. There are totally 5 stages in children language development. Preverbal stage refers to the crying of 0 – 6 months old infants. This is followed by the “one-word” holophrastic stage in 7-12 months children where they imitate vowels to communicate, i.e. “da da” for daddy. By adding gestures (e.g. pointing) and intonation into their words, they can convey directions, spacious relations of the objects near them, making it the third stage in language development. After 18 months, children enter the telegraphic stage where they can use 2-word phrases to indicate their needs, for instance, “Papa! Milk!” which they later enter the final stage: the multi-word stage. In this stage, they make remarkable breakthrough in language comprehension and speech. No matter what the first language that children are exposed to, the majority of them stick to such linguistic developmental...

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