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Language Acquisition: Understanding Language And Its Ontogenetic And Phylogenetic Aspects

3807 words - 15 pages

Over thousands of years language has evolved and continued to develop to what we know it as today. Throughout the years, it has been studied how we learn language and the benefits of learning it as well as the deficits of not learning it. While studying language it is important to consider the language acquisition device, language acquisition support system, and Infant-Directed and Adult-Directed Speech. Not only is it important to learn language in general, but there are specific sensitive periods in which a human must learn the language in order to obtain developmental milestones. The sensitive period is also crucial when learning a second language and can greatly affect the human when speaking that language. During the sensitive period while a child is learning language it is important that they learn the specifics about language structure and the aspects of language. Once the child has learned the aspects of language, they are also emerged into learning universal grammar. Lastly, the learning of language has influenced ontogeny and phylogeny in various ways. This influence will continue to arise as change occurs and humans and the world continue to develop and evolve.
Understanding how to define a subject matter is the first step in any successful study, and for the successful explanation of language and it’s acquisition and development, a definition must first be understood. Language, as defined by Webster’s dictionary reads as, “a systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings”. This definition provides as a useful explanation of language for an evolutionary developmental psychological perspective because the definition encapsulates several of the important aspects of language that evolutionary developmental psychology studies. Its inclusion of all types of languages: signs, sounds, and gestures, and its incorporation of “conventionalized” are both important aspects for this perspective because language is not limited to the spoken word and nor does is it stagnate in its development. As the human species evolves and changes so does language with it. The basics of learning language, though, have remained the same from generation to generation.
One of the most debated aspects of language acquisition is whether or not humans are born with an innate knowledge of and ability to learn language. Neonativists believe wholeheartedly that humans posses a language acquisition device or LAD, “the mental organ that compares the language input that children hear around them with their innate theory (universal grammar), makes modifications, and, eventually, permits children to understand and speak their mother tongue” (Bjorklund & Pelligrini, 2002. p. 175). The LAD essentially is a set or rules and parameters that each person is born with that allows them to learn a language. With the LAD, a child should be able to learn language in almost any...

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