Chomsky and Knowledge of Language Essay example

Chomsky and Knowledge of Language Essay example

Length: 3330 words (9.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The linguistic theory of Chomsky has changed the long, traditional way of studying language. The nature of knowledge, which is closely tied to human knowledge in general, makes it a logical step for Chomsky to generalize his theory to the study of the relation between language and the world-in particular, the study of truth and reference. But his theory has been controversial and his proposal of "innate ideas" has been resisted by some empiricists who characterize him as rationalist. In our view, these empiricists make a mistake. In the present paper we attend to his position regarding linguistics as a science of mind/brain, which we believe is an important aspect of his theory that has not been paid enough attention or understood by his opponents. In turn, this will help to clarify some of the confusions around his theory. Finally we will discuss some of the debatable issues based on the outlines we draw.


Chomsky's linguistic theory is based on the following empirical facts: "child learns language with limited stimuli", or the problem of poverty of evidence. (1) The input during the period of a natural language acquisition is circumscribed and degenerate. The output simply cannot be accounted for by the learning mechanism only, such as induction and analogy on the input. The output and input differ both in quantity and quality. A subject knows linguistic facts without instruction or even direct evidence. These empirical facts, "knowledge without ground", (2) are expressed: "Knowledge of language is normally attained through brief exposure, and the character of the acquired knowledge may be largely predetermined." (3)

This predetermined knowledge is some "notion of structure", in the mind of the speaker , which gu...

... middle of paper ...

... but can hardly exist apart from languages, how could it be in the mind prior to language? What are those ideas? (Goodman, 1969, p.141)

(24) He adds an interesting points: "Nevertheless, I think that what is significant in his paper is the fact that he believes that a genetic account is relevant to certain fundamental epistemological questions lying at the foundation of language." (Harman, 1969, p.170)

(25) Quine, 1969, p.95. Also Lewis, Davison, Searle (Chomsky, 1986).

(26) Quine, 1972.

(27) The state SL is attained by setting parameters of So in one of the permissible ways, this is essential part of what is "learned," yielding the core, and adding a periphery of marked exceptions on the basis of specific experience, in accordance with the markedness principles of So.

(28) Nagel, 1969, p.172.

(29) Chomsky, 1986, p.269.

(30) Danto, 1969, p.136.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Theory Of Child Language By Noam Chomsky And B. F. Skinner Essay

- There has been several conflicting arguments between varying theorist such as Noam Chomsky and B. F. Skinner studying Developmental Psycholinguistics, which is the study of child language, who have attempted to answer the question such as “How does a child learn his or her language so well in such a short time?” Noam Chomsky who is regarded as one of the most influential linguists (Neaum 2012), his nativist theory implies that language is an innate faculty, furthermore, he stated that all humans possess a ‘Language Acquisition Device or (LAD)’ (Neaum 2012), this contains knowledge of grammatical rules that are common in all languages throughout the world....   [tags: Noam Chomsky, Linguistics, Language acquisition]

Powerful Essays
791 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on Use Of Language And How Do We Communicate?

- Introduction The aim of the assessment is to research and report on the different roles that language can have in a child’s life. These roles can be seen and heard in language using oral, visual or written communication which integrates with the diversity of many English standards and social classes to form meaning. To demonstrate comprehension to tutors successfully various academic sources were studied including, the unit text. These findings are documented in the body of the report, along with demonstrating the two key stages in which children develop the ability to convey thoughts, feelings and ideas through cultural context spoken amongst family and the community....   [tags: Language, Linguistics, Noam Chomsky, Communication]

Powerful Essays
1262 words (3.6 pages)

Chomsky 's Theory Of Syntax Essay

- xplain Chomsky’s Theory of Syntax. Chomsky’s view of syntax is also referred to as generative grammar. According to Chomsky, individuals attempt to develop a small set of rules that they then use to create any sentence in a language. His theory of syntax is considered to have a surface level and a deeper level, also known as surface and deep structure. The surface structure would what an individual says or writes and the deep structure is what is meant in the message that has been communicated....   [tags: Linguistics, Language acquisition, Learning]

Powerful Essays
1608 words (4.6 pages)

Critical Age in First Language Acquisition Essay

- 1.0 Introduction Language is a set of arbitrary symbols which used for communication. Children will be taught or learn their first language from birth. Sometimes the term native language and the term mother tongue are used to indicate the term first language. Possessing a language is the quintessentially human trait: all normal humans speak, no nonhuman animal does.(Pinker, 2005) Nonetheless, learning a first language is something every child does successfully, in a matter of a few years and without the need for formal lessons....   [tags: Language ]

Powerful Essays
1878 words (5.4 pages)

Essay on Acquisition of Language in Children

- Possessing a language is a quintessentially human trait, yet the acquisition of language in children is not perfectly understood. Most explanations involve the observation that children mimic what they hear and the assumption that human beings have a natural ability to understand grammar. Behaviorist B.F. Skinner originally proposed that language must be learned and cannot be a module. The mind consisted of sensorimotor abilities as well as laws of learning that govern gradual changes in an organism’s behavior (Skinner, B.F., 1957)....   [tags: Chomsky, Language Acquisition]

Powerful Essays
2175 words (6.2 pages)

Essay on Language Acquisition : A Child 's Developmental Stage Of Language

- Language acquisition is a topic that has generated various theories throughout time. These theories have given us some sort of idea as to how kids can acquire language. Chomsky, for example, has categorized humans as innate, we basically do not learn language through our caregivers (parents, grandparents, day care personnel) but we are born with the capability to utter words and create sentences on our own since birth. The environment we are exposed to, to the input caregivers have in a child’s developmental stage of language, may or may not have an impact in the acquisition....   [tags: Linguistics, Noam Chomsky, Language acquisition]

Powerful Essays
1042 words (3 pages)

The Theory Of Language Development Essays

- Language development is and important part of a child maturation, it allows them to communicate with others around them as well as understand what others are trying to communicate to them. There are many theories surrounding language development, but the main two opposing points come from Michael Halliday and Norm Chompsky. The two theories have vastly different views on how a child develops language (Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics Theory and Chomsky’s Innate Language Theory). Using the transcript Halliday’s theory relates to explaining the development of Saskia’s language through her use of protolanguage and macro-functions with the help of Clare Painter and her research into Fu...   [tags: Linguistics, Noam Chomsky, Language acquisition]

Powerful Essays
708 words (2 pages)

Language Acquisition And Its Impact On Culture Essay

- Language acquisition still remains a debatable question in terms of nature or nurture being the guiding force, with neither side willing to concede defeat. The debate has seen the proposal and development of several hypotheses regarding the course through which people acquire both the first and the second language. Another factor that complicates the hypothesis in the discussion of the elemental subject of language is the aspect of diversity in culture and population. Consequently, in evaluating various cognitive and affective theories as they debug the myths regarding language acquisition, it is essential to consider diverse aspects of the mentioned issues....   [tags: Language acquisition, Linguistics, Noam Chomsky]

Powerful Essays
1164 words (3.3 pages)

Importance Of Language And Its Effect On Human Behavior Essay

- Our species has fine-tuned communication to a degree that is far more complex than any other species on Earth. What we call “language” is a system unique to us; no other animal has all of the qualities that constitute a language. According to Hockett, there are certain requirements that need to be met in order for a system of communication to be defined as a language. These requirements include: semanticity, arbitrariness, discreteness, displacement, productivity, and duality of patterning. While animals can use semanticity, (their utterances have meanings), and arbitrariness (no logical connection from signified to signifier), they lack the rest of these parameters, such as productivity: th...   [tags: Linguistics, Noam Chomsky, Grammar, Phonology]

Powerful Essays
1203 words (3.4 pages)

The Theories Regarding The Learning Of Language Essay

- The two competing theories regarding the learning of language are those of B.F. Skinner and Noam Chomsky. Skinner theorized that language is learned through association and operant conditioning. He argued that infants learn the meanings of words through reinforcement when they use language correctly, similarly to the way that they learn behavior (CrashCourse, 2014a). For example, when an infant begins to babble, they may make noises sounding like “mama” or “dada.” The parents’ responses may be a smile or attention that encourages or reinforces the baby to do the same thing again....   [tags: Linguistics, Language, Noam Chomsky, Jean Piaget]

Powerful Essays
715 words (2 pages)