Language is a form of communication wherein children learn how to convey their emotions, thoughts and ideas verbally. Not only is language a tool of communication, it’s also an implement of thinking which is related to the way in which children acquire knowledge, their reasoning and their observations. Within this essay I shall be discussing what and how children learn in the process of conducting a conversation with an adult, by exploring children’s acquisition in terms of linguistic and communicative competence with reference to the dialogue and other supporting evidence. In relation to linguistic competence, Linguist Noam Chomsky (1990, 1986) affirms that ‘language is an innate human ability which is biologically determined and follows a predictable path’ (Mayor, 2012, pg 92) suggesting that children are familiar with language from birth. However, Chomsky in contrast also states that ‘minimal language input is required to trigger the language learning process’ (Mayor, 2012, pg 92) testifying that a caregiver’s contribution plays is imperative role in a child’s development. Barbara Mayor, corresponding to Chomsky’s beliefs, has observed that ‘babies are primed even within the womb to attend to the particular ‘melody’ of the language that surrounds them’ (Mayor, 2012, pg 92) such as, a mother’s voice. In comparison to both Chomsky’s and Mayor’s philosophy, Elinor Ochs (1979) argues that non-verbal communication emerges before children can verbally communicate, such as ‘touching, pointing, and eye gaze...reaching, holding up, waving, pushing away, head shaking, and the like’ (Ochs, 1979, pg 12, in Mayor, pg 93) designating that minors can interact with their caregivers, almost like having ‘a conversation without words’ (Wells, 1985, pg 24, in Mayor, 2012, pg 93). Gordon Well’s observation coincides with that of Mayor’s, who asserts that a baby’s first experience of language across many cultures is likely to be in dialogue with a caregiver’ (Mayor, 2012, pg 93)....
References: Hymes, D. H. (1972) ‘On communicative competence’ in Pride, J. B. and Holmes, J. (eds) Sociolinguistics: Selected Readings, Harmondsworth, Penguin.
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