Vinsamlegast notið þetta auðkenni þegar þið vitnið til verksins eða tengið í það: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/21346
The aim of this essay is to examine the extent to which children’s language acquisition is innate. As such, this thesis highlights Noam Chomsky’s Innateness Hypothesis as the main theory underlying first language acquisition. Chomsky believes that children are born with an inherited capacity to learn languages. He points out that there is no way that children could learn language trough imitating adult speech because the speech they hear is not sufficient to aid children’s acquisition of language. He also claims that the only way to explain how children acquire the complex system of language is if they are born with an innate mechanism which aids the acquisition of language. A language acquisition device called Universal Grammar. Universal Grammar provides children with universal language principles and its grammatical structures.
If Chomsky’s hypothesis is correct, then one can expect to find in human biology and development evidence that reflects specialization for language. Thus, this thesis discusses two ways in which humans are specialized for language. First, the thesis discusses the brain structure and how certain structures of children’s brains appear to be specialized for language. Secondly, we discuss the critical period for first language acquisition and its implications for children’s language acquisition after puberty. Furthermore, the present thesis assesses as well the controversy surrounding Chomsky’s hypothesis. Therefore, the criticism and theories of Jean Piaget, Michael Tomasello, Joan Bybee and Hilary Putnam are discussed. First the debate between Piaget, and Chomsky is analyzed. Then, Putnam general intelligence debate with Chomsky is explained and contested. Finally, the criticism and theory of Tomasello and Bybee, are considered.
The conclusion will demonstrate that despite the criticism there are a variety of studies that support Chomsky hypothesis. Therefore, Chomsky’s Innateness Hypothesis remains the leading hypothesis underlying first language acquisition.