Noam Chomsky's Theories

Topics: Linguistics, Noam Chomsky, Language acquisition Pages: 2 (534 words) Published: December 11, 2014
2. How did Noam Chomsky’s theories revolutionize language teaching? (400 words)

Chomsky is considered one of the most important linguists in the twentieth century. His main contribution in the field of linguistics is the influential "transformative-generative grammar" which is an attempt to describe the syntactical processes common to all human language mathematically (Smith, 1999).  Chomsky draws a key distinction between the deep structure and surface structure of languages. He argues that the deep structure, which contains the meaning of a sentence, is not culturally determined but rather "hardwired" in the human brain.  The meaning is then converted by a transformation into surface structure, which includes the sounds and words in a sentence.  The Language Acquisition Device (LAD) is the hypothetical brain mechanism that according to Chomsky explained the acquisition of syntactic structure of language. Chomsky hypothesized that the language acquisition device was the system that determined the features of the child's native language. This falls under the realm of the nativist theory of language which states that humans are born with the innate ability for acquiring language. Chomsky's Views on Language Acquisition

Chomsky proposed some ideas that were new ways of thinking about language: the theory of universal grammar, the idea that language is innate, and the notion that language acquisition occurs during critical developmental stages. The Theory of Universal Grammar

Chomsky believed that it was more than a coincidence that the majority of human languages follow similar rules and patterns when it comes to grammar. Universal Grammar is considered to contain all the grammatical information needed to combine these categories, e.g. noun and verb, into phrases. The child’s task is just to learn the words of her language (Ambridge & Lieven). For example, according to the Universal Grammar account, children instinctively know how to combine a noun (e.g. a...
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