Language is our main means of communication and learning, without it we would not understand each other efficiently enough to communicate our needs and thoughts. It is a very complicated feature of human cognition. Yet children acquire language very naturally and quickly without any formal instruction. Many language experts such as Chomsky (1965) and Pinker (2000) believe this suggests that there is some innate predisposal to acquire language, by this it is meant a genetic mechanism that holds what he calls the ‘universal grammar’ common to all languages. Noam Chomsky call’s language ‘the human essence’ (1972). He is a discontinuity theorist, this means he believes the human brain appears to have an ‘inborn’ capacity to learn and obtain languages. Chomsky puts forward that many of the attributes adult speakers acquire cannot be answered for by learning mechanisms but ‘‘an innate component of the human mind that yields a particular language through interaction with presented experience’’ (Chomsky, 1985,p. 5) The extent of detail in the structure of human language does suggest that maybe an ability to learn language is genetically embedded, as opposed to language being learnt as one develops. However, Chomsky does not take into consideration evolution as a possible threat to his claim of humans being innately predisposed to acquire language. Noam Chomsky believes that all human beings have a Language Acquisition Device (LAD), an instinctive mental capacity which holds the general grammatical rules that every language has, and this is what allows children to learn language so naturally. Chomsky assumes everyone has a LAD which therefore means all languages need to basically be the same and have the same fundamental principles, so in order to learn a specific language a child just needs to learn the vocabulary and principles relevant to that language. Meanwhile, some people such as Michael Tomasello, (a developmental psychologist), critique Chomsky’s idea of innate...
Bibliography: Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of a theory of syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Chomsky, N. (1972). Language and mind. New York: Harcourt
Tomasello,M(2008). Origins of human communication. Cambridge: MIT Press
Williams, TD. (1995). The Penguins. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Pilbeam, D. (1984) Scientific America, 250, 84-97.
Kottack, C. P. (2000). Cultural anthropology (8th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill
Chomsky, N (1988) Language and the problems of knowledge. Cambridge: MIT Press
Chomsky, N (1993) Language and thought
Darwin, C (1897) The Descent of Man. USA: Penguin Classics
Please join StudyMode to read the full document