Attempts to explain language developmen

Topics: Noam Chomsky, Linguistics, Language acquisition Pages: 1 (381 words) Published: November 7, 2014
Attempts to explain language development have sparked a spirited intellectual controversy. At the heart of this controversy is the nature-nurture debate. Behaviorist B. F. Skinner believed that we can explain how babies acquire language entirely with principles of learning, such as the association of objects with the sounds of words, the imitation of language modeled by others, and the reinforcement of correct use of words and syntax by parents and teachers. Linguist Noam Chomsky, who favors the nature position, believes that much of our language capacity is inborn. According to this perspective, just as "learning" to walk is programmed according to a timetable of biological maturation, so are children pre-wired to begin to babble and talk. In this exercise, review each of the following examples of language use by children and decide whether it best supports the position of B. F. Skinner or Noam Chomsky. Then explain your reasoning. 1. Whenever 14-month-old Juwan wants his mother he calls out "Mama" and she comes running. Consequently, Juwan utters "Mama" much more frequently now than he did at seven months of age. 2. Even in her very first sentences, it is obvious that 21-month-old Melissa has figured out the basics of subject-predicate word order. Seeing her mother returning from work, for example, she says "Mommy home" rather than "home Mommy." 3. 10-month-old Tara, who is deaf, has begun to babble manually at about the same time hearing infants begin babbling orally. 4. While Keshawn and his mother are looking at a book together, Keshawn's mother shows him a picture of an animal and says, "Cow." Keshawn says, "cow," and his mother praises him for his correct utterance. Two pages later, Keshawn spontaneously points to a picture and correctly identifies it as a cow. 5. When her preschool teacher asks 4-year-old Grace what she did yesterday, she responds with "We goed to the zoo." Her teacher smiles, marveling at the fact that all children Grace's age make this...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • language Essay
  • Language Essay
  • Language Essay
  • Child Language Acquisition
  • language development in deaf child Essay
  • Essay on English Language; Development of Language
  • Communication and Language Essay
  • Explain the problems of religious language Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free