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To What Extent Is Language “Innate” or Genetically Determined?

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Submitted By Azamat
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To what extent is language “innate” or genetically determined?
The process of language acquisition begins in the first months of life and continues throughout adulthood. To explain the human ability for language acquisition has been offered two completely different theories. One theory, which was formulated by B.F. Skinner, assumes that language acquisition as a result of nurture and environmental influence, another theory, which was proposed by Noam Chomsky, claims that learning the language is almost entirely provided by innate ability. Therefore, this essay aims to compare and contrast these two theories for their values and problems.
Skinner applied to the development of the language his theory of operant conditioning, and according to his view, verbal behavior, like any other, arises as a consequence of operant learning. He argues that adults play an important role in language acquisition, by reinforcing and speaking to children grammatical way they control their expressions and utterances. Due to the reinforcement children establish the relationship between stimulus and response. However, problematic with this theory is that children often ignore the corrections. In addition, parents generally imitate the child's speech, and do not correct them. They are more interested in what child want to say, but not in sentences structure which he used.
On the other hand, Chomsky (1959), who was a nativist, argued that children are born with a language acquisition device (LAD) and suggest The Innateness Hypothesis. According to his hypothesis, children have genetically determined system of grammar rules of their native language from birth, which allows children construct phrases in correct structure. He states that this happens via the LAD. Evidence for this hypothesis comes from studies of children’s errors types, generalizations, patterns of concurrent acquisition...

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