Suzette Haden Elgin's Native Tongue: The Acquisition Of Language As A Foreign Language

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In Suzette Haden Elgin’s Native Tongue, infants of linguistic households are required to acquire various alien languages to become native speakers of Earth for the new languages studied. Our society, for the most part, understands that adults acquire foreign languages differently from the acquisition of a second language by a child. Furthermore, most people generally have the understanding that children learn languages quickly and easily compared to adults. Adults, however, are able to acquire foreign languages in fair or controlled conditions. There may be resulting differences between language acquisitions of new languages, but the rate at which adults acquire second languages should not be a factor. In Native Tongue, linguist children…show more content…
There’s a long-standing argument that most people resort to when discussing whether or not children are better suited to acquire a language over adults. The “critical period hypothesis” argues, “that children are superior to adults in learning second languages because their brains are more flexible.” (McLaughlin 2) This argument is true to some extent, however, experimental research has found that adolescents and adults are able to acquire languages better based on their controlled environment. Children, on the other hand, are better able to grasp a better understanding of the pronunciation of languages compared to adults. (McLaughlin…show more content…
One of the methods the government decides to act on involves, “monkeying around with the brains of infants, feeding them peyote.” (Elgin 144) The practice of using hallucinogens to determine whether or not they assist with enhancing the way someone is able to acquire a language has its pros and cons. Researches of psychedelic substances on adults while practicing language acquisition have found that drugs “assist an individual to observe the difference between the word and the object it represents.” (Krippner 7) However, even though drugs are able to heighten our associations of words and sensory levels, they also diminish our logical thought process. More so, hallucinogens have to ability to cause, “a reduction or even an absence of speech,” (Krippner 4) and high anxiety and agitation. A study on the effects of infants that were exposed to LSD during their mother’s pregnancy by Singer et al. details that after twelve months the infant, “had negative effects on infant cognitive and motor outcomes.” (Singer et al. 410) The reduction of motor skills and cognitive efficiency I don’t believe is what the government experimentalists were taking into account when they thought of their hypothesis. If other side effects included “delays in eye hand coordination,” (“First and Only Study”) I’m not sure how the government thought infants and children would be able to comprehend
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