Why Is Language Unique To Humans

10042 words - 40 pages

Why is language unique to humans?
Linguists. psychologists. and neuroscientists have studied language acquisition with the tools and models available to their respective fields. Linguists elaborated some of the most sophisticated theories to account for how this unique human competence arises in the infants' brains. Chomsky (1980) formulated the parameter setting theory (hereafter. PS) to account for how infants. on the basis of partial and noisy language input, acquire grammar. PS assumes that infants are born with "knowledge" of Universal Grammar (UG).This includes both genetically determined universal principles and binary parameters. Universal principles describe the properties common to all natural languages. Binary parameters capture the grammatical properties on which natural languages differ from one another. The linguistic input determines the particular value of a parameter. PSpostulates that exposure to the surround- ing language determines how the parameters ofUG are set.1
We acknowledge that PS has many virtues. It addresses the problem of language acquisition without making unjustified but common simplifications. for example. that imitation is the privileged mechanism responsible for the emergence of linguistic competence. The theory, furthermore, is quite appeal- ing because it assumes. realistically, a biological perspective. namely. that the child is equipped with a species-specific mechanism to acquire natural lan- guage. Moreover. the PS theory has been formulated with sufficient detail and precision as to make it easy to falsitY. In contrast, proposals that assume that language is acquired by means of a general learning device appear more difficult to support. Criticisms of proposals according to which general learning mechan- isms are sufficient to explain language acquisition have been given by many
Topics in Integrative Neuroscience: From Cells to Cognition. ed. James R. Pomerantz. Published by Cambridge University Press. © Cambridge University Press 2008.

theoreticians (see Chomsky, 1959; Fodor, 1975; Lenneberg et al., 1964; Pinker, 1984).
All theories agree that at least parts of grammar have to be learned. What distinguishes the different positions is the scope and nature of learning. How does the learning proceed? PS assumes an initial state characterized by knowl- edge specific to language. In contrast, theoreticians who favor a general learning mechanism, assume that the initial state is characterized by learning principles that apply to all areas in which the organism gains knowledge. PS has the advantage that it is rather easy to falsify. If syntax cannot be acquired given the normal input, then PSwould have to be abandoned. Indeed, if PS turns out to be misguided, badly informed, or incorrect, another theory will have to be formulated and evaluated. This is far from being an exceptional situation. Rather, it is one that is obtained in all scientific domains. In contrast, recent generic learning accounts (see...

Find Another Essay On Why is language unique to humans

Why English is Becoming a Global Language

933 words - 4 pages reasons why English is easy to learn is because it does not have a difference when speaking whether it is masculine or feminine. When people usually want to learn another language they usually struggle with masculine and feminine whether or not they have it in their own language. Another problem that people face when they want to learn another language is the grammar. English is known for not having as much grammar compared with other languages

"Sparta: Historically Unique" -explains lifestyle/social structure/government of Spartans -explains why Sparta is unique -Bibliography and incorrect in-text citation included (should be fixed)

1120 words - 4 pages Throughout history the world has seen very few powers that have been quite as unique as the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta. Very few city-states of ancient Greece were able to rival the Spartan people. Their unique government, social structure, and way of life made them a viable force in the ancient world. It is for these reasons that Sparta has gone down in history as one of the most uniquely structured powers in world history, one that is

How and to what extent does language make humans distinctive from other animals?

1888 words - 8 pages . In contrast, animals typically communicate about the here and now, relating to issues of immediate importance."It would appear then that certain species other than humans can be taught limited vocabulary with a very basic understanding of semancity and displacement. Nonetheless, what makes language a truly distinctive and unique human ability is the way in which we understand it and the many different ways in which language is used. Animals do

Changing The World Through Words. How Guevara uses beautiful and unique language in Motorcycle Diares to illustrate South America

594 words - 2 pages get that picture out of their heads. Guevara could not get that picture out of his head and that's why he wanted to change the world. He wanted to make it a more just world in which to live. Guevara wanted to make a difference in the world. It is not through his leadership or example that he does this, but through his words. A mental picture reinforced with words will last longer than just an image in your mind. Descriptive, beautiful and unique words can change good writing to great writing. It can change your entire perspective on the world. It is through his memoir, with its beautiful and unique language, that Guevara is able to change the world for the better.

Why Is Infant Language Learning Facilitated by Parental Responsiveness?

645 words - 3 pages , to whom, and under what conditions to speck, which concludes that the more responsive parent will allow their child to become more aware of the intentions of social interactions and therefore more equipped to understand adult knowledge and interactions. Responsiveness and semantics, the third theory, also focuses on that fact that language learning is socially embedded and explains why that is; likewise in class, we learned that semantics is a

Why I Want to Study Software Engineering and Language

708 words - 3 pages Statement of Purpose In the words of Edsger Dijkstra, “Program testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but never to show their absence!”. Along with these wise words, my personal experience in the field of application development and testing, has made me realise that it is better to avoid a mistake than to correct it. This calls for a better software engineering process coupled with language verification, quality assurance and

“The Wild Iris is a Poem That is Realistic to All Humans” Discuss

529 words - 2 pages "The Wild iris is a poem that is realistic to all humans" DiscussMany poems explore issues that are relevant to life and our world. "The Wild Iris" by Louis Gluck looks at how life becomes sad when human suffering becomes unbearable. It also examines the significance of expressing one's thoughts, communication and finding confidence to do so.The poem compares human suffering to the growth of the wild iris or any plant or flower. A plant

This essays is in regard to the comparitive psychology career (study/comparison of animal behavior to humans) Should we really study animal behavior to learn more on humans???

649 words - 3 pages which these species can reach, including humans, has yet to be achieved. From past research studies that have been conducted and proven, I strongly agree that the field of studying animal behavior is wise, and can be applied to the study of man and his related behavior. Therefore, comparative psychology, although many of its fundamentals have emerged at the beginning of the century, should remain primarily focused on the study of animals and their behavioral patterns, for we have much to learn.

Summary/Analysis: Is Language the Key to Human Intelligence?

627 words - 3 pages a brief explanation on his main points. He later explains his main points each one separately and in his conclusion explains how all of his arguments together play a significant role in language. The purpose of this article is to prove that there are more underlying keys that make human unique beside language and recursion. Also, to prove that humans have preexisting conditions that allow them to speak and understand language. However, he also

Why Is Dr.Watson important to Sherlock Holmes

675 words - 3 pages The classic mystery novel, Sherlock Holmes, features a murder-mystery detective Sherlock Holmes, and his army doctor colleague Dr. John Watson. The story revolves around the main character, Sherlock Holmes, and his unique method to solving crimes. The story is mainly all about Sherlock and his abilities, which then rises the question about the importance of the character of Dr.Watson, both to the chaarcter of Sherlock Holmes, and towards the

Why college is important to me

633 words - 3 pages society and family, rather an obligation to oneself to become a more intellectual individual. Therefore, college is important to me because it educates individuals, allows, self-growth, and creates more opportunities to join the work force. After seeing the amount of knowledge Mrs. Ahmed received going to college; education had become one of the most reasons why college is essential. With the ambition to learn, Mrs. Ahmed was soon able to have

Similar Essays

Why Is Communication Important To Humans?

2847 words - 11 pages Communication is defined as “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, and feelings to someone else.” From that description, communication can be characterized as anything that can be used to get a message or a piece of knowledge from one individual to another. Communication helps humans to function orderly and productively. Without communication, the

Why Sleep Is Essential To Humans?

1446 words - 6 pages Everybody in the world requires sleep; although, not everybody requires the same exact amount. There is no answer as to why some people need more sleep than others, but the fact of the matter is that in order to live a productive and healthy life, everyone needs sleep. In fact, research has shown that humans should get a minimum of eight hours of sleep each night, which would ultimately be one third of a person’s total lifespan. Unfortunately

Language Is All That Seperates Animals From Humans

899 words - 4 pages Language is all that Seperates Animals from Humans For thousands of years humans have wrestled with the question of their "human" nature. Most often they have defined themselves in relation to the animal kingdom, yearning either to take on some of the superior attributes of other animals or to rise above their own animal nature by becoming angelic. And thus they define themselves as a special sort of unique creation. Our magnificent and

Is It Ethical To Clone Humans?

836 words - 4 pages half the life of the adult cell. Therefore, human cloning should not be allowed. Due to Human Cloning a loss of gene diversity will occur. When gene diversity is lost among humans, natural gene mutations will eventually occur. Bacteria or viruses will have the health and. Every human should have a right to own themselves a unique identity. Cloning would cause humans to lose their sense of freely creating their own future. However, some argue that