Essay on Language Acquisition Is The Most Important Field

Essay on Language Acquisition Is The Most Important Field

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Language acquisition is the most important field in the study of Linguistics. If we could not acquire languages so easily, Linguists would not have a lot to study. Children learn language in the most amazing way – no matter the country, class, or ethnicity all children follow a similar patter of acquisition and normally have complete control of the language by puberty. Before Chomsky, language acquisition was not as well understood. Because of his ideas about the innateness of language and the potential for a critical period, linguists have spent the past decades studying infants and children trying to understand the language process. Research has shown that day old infants listen to and can even analyze language; and that this keeps getting stronger as they age. The fact that there are specific stages that all children have in common when they acquire a language shows that there is a obvious consistency to language acquisition. In addition the fact that children go through this process relatively easily, especially when compared to adults learning a second language, supports Chomsky’s idea that there is a critical period for learning language.
This paper will first outline the stages and steps in language acquisition, starting with phoneme perception and going through telegraphic speech. It will then discuss the idea of a critical period for language acquisition using two different studies, which provide evidence for it. These two things are related because the uniform stages of language acquisition support the idea of a critical period and because the studies used later in the paper use examples of atypical language acquisition to provide evidence for a critical period. Before one can understand aytipcal language acquisition on...


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...ven if it is a form of sign language. Children do this with relative ease, especially when compared to adults, which shows there must be something innate in children that enhances their linguistic ability. Chomsky and others have come to call this phenomena a critical period, which extends from birth to puberty and is the time in which children can most easily learn a language. Finding direct evidence for a critical period is difficult because researchers want to use counter evidence in the form of children who did not learn a language during the critical period and were in linguistic isolation. Cases of language isolation are rare and usually are accompanied by mental disorders or some form of post-traumatic stress, which can impair language acquisition. That being said there are many different pieces of indirect evidence that support the idea of a critical period.

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