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How a Language Develops

Essay by   •  July 19, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,219 Words (5 Pages)  •  3,011 Views

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Universal Grammar is a speculation of linguistics hypothesizing principle of grammar that is shared by all the different languages. Universal Grammar is used to explain language acquisition, and shows that different human languages have different grammar. Universal Grammar can be explained by the process of language acquisition. Things like Chomsky’s theory, William syndrome, cutoff age, and other experiments would be used as evidence for Universal Grammar.

Noam Chomsky argued that the human brain consists of a limited set of rules for organizing grammar. He stated that children understand human language from birth. In his point of view, our brain was made with the ability to learn language. A speaker of proficient in a language recognizes what expressions are acceptable in their language and what expressions are unacceptable. There are two examples that support Chomsky’s theory.

The first example is that deaf children learn language like normal children. Like the normal children, deaf children coo and babble at first, but they will loose this ability because they have no auditory inputs. When they observe people around them using sign language, they can quickly seize the way something is signed and start babbling with their hands. They also go through the one-word and two-word stages like normal speaking children. This shows that language faculty is independent of other mental faculties. Deaf children can also seize any gestures that parents uses, and develop a sign language system. However, this system that a deaf child made up can only be develop to a certain point because it does not have the appropriate things to support its system.

The second example is when a group of people that have no language in common are brought together in a group. To communicate with each other, they would create a pidgin. A pidgin is a simple language that is developed to communicate between groups that does not share a common language and are usually learned as a second language. Everyone has a different vocabulary and grammar in pidgin. The pidgin is developed into a real language by children. This new developed language is called a creole and the children that developed it are the native speakers. There are only two things that happen to a creole. Either it subsists and embellishes or it will be replaced by another language.

Language acquisition is the process in which a language is developed in a human. Many people think that children learn language by imitating adults, but the truth is they do not. Language acquisition begins before. Every normal child goes through the same stages of acquisition and in the same order, except the age they go through each stage may vary. First they begin cooing, which is making sounds that are familiar, but indescribable. Then they go into the babbling stage, which is the stage where they start to pronoun syllables. From there, they go onto the one-word stage. At this stage they add new words to their vocabulary, but these words do not include grammatical words. The following stage is the two-word. Here they can utter two words long phrases and you can see that they have acquired grammar rules because you would never hear anything that is not in the adult word order. According to Trask, “by the age five, the average child is thought to know around 10,000 words, which means that it must have been learning them at a rate of about ten a day. A five-year-old child already knows more about grammar of English than you can find in any book ever written”

When asked pluralize words, normal people know when to use the s-sound, z-sound, and an extra vowel proceeded by a z-sound. To test child, one can use the wug test. A child has never heard of the word wug before, but yet when asked to pluralized it they say wugs. This shows that children can construct their own rule of grammar. You can also see this in the use of a negative word. Children at first would put the negative in front of the sentence, then after a while they would move it before the verb, and finally the negative auxiliaries appear. Children will do this even if nobody teaches them or correct them. As you can see, children can make grammatical rules for a language. There is no need to speak slower or emphasize a certain word when speaking to a child. They can pick up all these things naturally.

A neurologist Eric Lenneberg suggested that children

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