Essay On Nature And Nurture

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FIRST AND SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION – ENG2153 CANDIDATE NO. 10061 Discuss the nature/nurture debate in language acquisition in light of evidence from atypical language development. The debate nature/nurture has been a fascinating open question for many years in the field of language development and acquisition. The focus of the dichotomy aspires to understand if language depends on an innate biological endowment or because of the environmental input we receive from the external world. The literature about the nature/nurture debate counts many different theories that have as crucial topics of discussion whether either nature or nurture plays the leading role in language development. One of the most famous theories is the nativist approach, whose father, Noam Chomsky, maintains that language is innate in human because of the Universal Grammar. Actually, according to Chomsky, this ‘gift’ is the child’s initial language faculty and exists prior to any linguistic experience, so that it gives the child the ability to acquire any language (Karmilloff, 2002). In contrast to this theory, the cognitive approach states that language is not innate because we do not have a Universal Grammar, but we learn language through general learning mechanisms. In other words, language is acquired through input and experiences in the environment. Another interesting point of view about the debate nature/nurture are the researches carried out by Lenneberg, who was influenced in his theoretical and practical studies both by Chomsky and by Piaget, father of the cognitive approach that I briefly introduced below. Lenneberg studied atypical language development and carried researches in particular on deaf children, children with focal brain damages and c... ... middle of paper ... ... poverty of the stimulus is a myth, or in other words that we cannot learn language if the linguistic input we receive are less in amount or incomplete or wrong. In other words, these two cases of atypical language development, are in favour of the nurture position contrasting the idea of the language of something innate and proving that children need input to develop their language. Moreover, both atypical language developments confirms that parental input is a crucial factor in the development of language. Thus parental input is the most important environmental factor, the two cases support the nurture thesis in the debate. According to Karmilloff, we learn languages by a dynamic interaction between nature and nurture, because “the evolution has prolonged the period of post-natal brain development, so that environmental input can be processed for a longer time”.

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