Ethodological Theory

Topics: Linguistics, Language acquisition, Noam Chomsky Pages: 8 (2863 words) Published: March 9, 2013
Ethological Theory
stresses that behavior is strongly influenced by biology and is tied of evolution characterized by critical or sensitive periods.
these are specific time frames during which, according to ethologists, the presence or absence of certain experiences has a long-lasting influence on individuals. Konrad Lorenz
European zoologist
helped bring ethology to prominence
what is ethology?
1. study of the behaviour of animals in their normal environment (Collins Dictionary, 2010) noun
2. study of animal behavioral patterns:
the study of the behavior of animals in their natural habitat, usually proposing evolutionary explanations (Encarta Dictionaries, 2009) Lorenz’s experiment
1.studied the behavior of greylag geese, which will follow their mothers as soon as they hatch. 2.He separated the eggs laid by one goose into two groups.
> one group he returned to the goose to be hatched by her.
> the other group was hatched in an incubator
3. He marked the goslings and then placed both groups under a box. Mother goose and "mother" lorenz stood aside as the box lifted. Each group of goslings went directly to its "mother." lorenz called this process imprinting. Imprinting….

It is the rapid, innate learning that involves attachment to the first moving objects seen. Contributions of ethological theory
1. focus on the biological and evolutionary basis of development 2. the use of careful observations in naturalistic settings
1.too much emphasis on biological foundations
2.a belief that the critical and sensitive period concepts might be too rigid. Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky is perhaps the best known and the most influential linguist of the second half of the Twentieth Century. He has made a number of strong claims about language : in particular, he suggests that language is an innate faculty - that is to say that we are born with a set of rules about language in our heads which he refers to as the 'Universal Grammar'. The universal grammar is the basis upon which all human languages build. If a Martian linguist were to visit Earth, he would deduce from the evidence that there was only one language, with a number of local variants. Chomsky gives a number of reasons why this should be so. Among the most important of these reasons is the ease with which children acquire their mother tongue. He claims that it would be little short of a miracle if children learnt their language in the same way that they learn mathematics or how to ride a bicycle. This, he says, is because : 1.Children are exposed to very little correctly formed language. When people speak, they constantly interrupt themselves, change their minds, make slips of the tongue and so on. Yet children manage to learn their language all the same. 2.Children do not simply copy the language that they hear around them. They deduce rules from it, which they can then use to produce sentences that they have never heard before. They do not learn a repertoire of phrases and sayings, as the behaviourists believe, but a grammar that generates an infinity of new sentences. 1. 2. Children are born, then, with the Universal Grammar wired into their brains. This grammar offers a certain limited number of possibilities - for example, over the word order of a typical sentence. Some languages have a basic SVO structure

The teachergavea lecture
75% of the world's languages use either this (English, French, Vietnamese) or SOV (Japanese, Tibetan, Korean) - others prefer VSO (10 - 15% - Welsh) or VOS (Malagasy) * Some languages, such as Latin, appear to have free word order, but even here, SOV is very common. OSV is very rare - but you will find an example in the speech of Yoda, in Star Wars.

When the child begins to listen to his parents, he will unconsciously recognise which kind of a language he is dealing with - and he will set his grammar to the correct one - this is known as 'setting the...
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