Explain Innateness Theory of Language Acquisition.
Innateness Theory of Language Acquisition:
In 1957, Noam Chomsky put forth a critique of behaviorist theory on the basis of impoverished language obtained by children during their formative years. Thus, according to this theory, children have an innate capacity to language acquisition and can discover the grammar of their language according their own inborn grammar.
Moreover, language structure appears to be preordained according to the cognitive structure. It is manifested in the presence of nouns/ verbs, consonants and vowels in every language for which children are pprogrammed or have innate qualities.
However, the acquisition of native language by children is not explained in certain terms by any scholar with perfectness. It has been observed that despite complexity, children learn their native language in 5 or 6 years. This generally does not depend upon other talents and general, intellectual ability children. Language acquisition is not mere copying and doesn’t depend on general intelligence.
Therefore, it may be argued that some innate feature of the mind causes universally rapid and natural acquisition of language in child.
Thus, Chomsky summed up children must have an inborn faculty for acquiring language. This means the process is biologically determined which is explained by the fact that human species has a developed kind of brain. This has provided human beings with neural circuits having linguistic information at birth itself. Hearing speech and the following interpretation with help of inborn principles or structures makes available the natural faculty called the Language acquisition Device (LAD) in the human beings.
According to Chomsky, all human languages show common principles as is reflected by the presence of words for things and actions (nouns and verbs) in all the languages of the world. The child relates his native language with underlying principles of his natural faculty.
This theory, for e.g., says the Language acquisition Device (LAD) already contains the concept of verb tense and the child forms the hypothesis that the past tense of verbs liked “played”, “got” is formed by clubbing the sound d, t or id to the base form of the verb. That is why children show up “virtuous errors” like using “goed” for past tense of “go”. Undoubtedly, Chomsky knows that this process is unconscious.
The path breaking Chomsky’s theory is still a main theory of language acquisition but over the period it has undergone changes. To begin with, Chomsky believed that the Language acquisition Device (LAD) contained specific knowledge about language. According to Dan Isaac Slobin, it may be more of a process mechanism to work out language rules.
Evidence to Support Innateness Theory.
It appears that Chomsky proposes new theories without much empirical evidence. In his: innateness theory, he said that children face poverty of stimulus. But there is no evidence to say that children actually face this problem. Unlike the minds of the adults, the minds of the children are not cluttered. An uncluttered mind can take more input and absorb it. This might be the reason behind the ability of the infants in internalizing their mother tongue at a rapid pace. Moreover language is not something which remains static. It keeps changing. It evolves constantly and continuously.
Three types of evidence to support innateness theory:
Slobin has acicular out that human analysis is abnormally acclimatized to the assembly of speech. Unlike our abutting relatives, the abundant apes, we accept acquired a articulate amplitude which allows the absolute delivery of a advanced repertoire of articulate sounds.
Neuro-science has additionally recognized particular regions of the mind with notably semantic capacities, prominently Broca’s range and Wernicke’s territory. Stroke victimized people furnish important information: contingent upon the site of mind harm, they might endure a reach of dialect brokenness, from issues with finding expressions to an ineptitude to decipher syntax.
Trials pointed at educating chimpanzees to convey utilizing plastic images or manual signals have demonstrated dubious. It appears to be likely that our gorilla cousins, while equipped to study distinctive “expressions”, have almost no syntactic capability. Pinker (1994) offers an exceptional record of this research.
Sign language is a language which, instead of acoustically conveyed sound patterns, uses manual communication and body language to convey meaning. This can involve simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and ovement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speaker’s thoughts. They share many similarities with spoken languages, which is why linguists consider both to be natural languages, but there are also some significant differences between signed and spoken languages.