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In the field of Psycholinguistics, language acquisition is a sensitive topic which distinguished scientists have argued upon. In (1957) in book B.F. Skinner – one of the pioneers of behaviorism- proposed one of the earliest scientific explanation concerning the language acquisition topic; his theory states that children learn language based on behaviorist reinforcement principles by associating words with meanings. However, Skinner’s approach was massively criticized by Noam Chomsky (1972) who is considered as the world’s most famous linguist to date, and his theory that he proposes it in his book Language and mind. This theory which plays as Skinner’s counter argument states that there are inborn structures in our brain which he called a language acquisition device (LAD) which presumes that children have a propensity to organize what we hear into their correct fields and even form original sentences while lacking all the required information to do so.
This research paper spots the light on Chomsky’s nativist theory and applying its hypothesis on the corpus material, in an attempt to prove his theory on how children acquire their first language supporting it with evidence.
The research aims to spot the light on Noam Chomsky’s nativist theory (1972) by observing a children’s language acquisition process over different stages, and finding evidence to support his theory.
In Noam Chomsky (1972) book Language and Mind, he said “When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the ‘human essence,’ the distinctive qualities of mind that are, so far as we know, unique to man.’ Chomsky put a theory that discuss how the mind develops while acquiring a language. Chomsky (1972) Nativist theory imposes that children have an innate ability in order to acquire a language. There is some rules in the human’s brains since birth. They adapt to the language very quickly as they have the universal grammar. Chomsky demonstrate that children knows the basic of language, just don’t have enough vocabulary to start talking. And that what he’s starting to gain while observing others. His hypotheses that there is background basic grammar in our brain that called language acquisition device LAD. Those who makes it easy to learn language.
The research paper will focus on the common features between various Corpora in order to serve the purpose which is presenting Chomsky (1972) Nativist theory with given evidence. Acquiring a first language is such an easy process with the innate ability stating that any mother tongue can be learnt through the same ways as all children have some common basic (universal) grammar helps them reach a certain understanding throughout their first language learning formation. The purpose of choosing those home-made videos which are titled (‘A two-year child learns to speak Korean’ and “Baby Learn Dua – Funny’) is mainly to serve the main purpose of our research paper spotting the light on Chomsky’s theory through applying it on some visual material that have common learning features making it clear that the theory is much reliable when it comes to first language acquisition.
The two home-made chosen visual materials (corpora) are showing that any two languages can be acquired through the same ways. Having an innate ability, children can learn and form their mother-tongue facilely in an even shorter period than learning a second language. For instance, in the first video that is titled ‘A two-year child learns to speak Korean’ the Korean father tends to make his child learn how to speak Korean by making him imitate the sounds he hears exactly. Thus, it does not matter which language it is to be learnt as all the children in the world have the LAD or the universal grammar inside their mind that forms the language. They adapt to by imitating their parents. However, the Korean child makes mistakes and mixes letters while uttering them but he does not make mistakes in the order of the sentence his father says and he imitates after and that is what shows the evidence to the universal grammar imposed by Chomsky in his paper.
As for the second video that is titled “Baby Learn Dua – Funny’ it’s more like the Korean one in which proves that they share a common ground. Their common feature is that the two parents are making their children learn their language through the same way which is imitation. In this Arabic video “Baby Learn Dua – Funny’ the parent tends to make her child speak proper Arabic through “Dua” and the child seems to be hearing and imitating just fine. This imposes the universal grammar too as even when the child makes mistakes, he just mixes up letters like the Korean child but nothing happens to the structure of the language he acquires from his parent. Wherefore, those videos are great evidence to the Nativist theory imposed by Chomsky (1972) as they both learn the language so fast as if they already have the basic (universal) grammar that makes them able to comprehend and digest the words they hear and say them without any mistakes in forming sentences.
This research paper’s target is to provide the rational evidence to support Chomsky (1972) nativist theory, by applying his hypotheses on two different audiovisual material. In abstraction, the two substantial arguments that back his theory are: human beings go through the same stages of development when acquiring their first language no matter what language they are learning, and if infants are learning language from nothing and not developing it, they should take more time doing so, and that’s not quite the case.
After multiple observations and applying these two arguments, one might notice that in the first video, the Korean child has the ability to imitate the words as exactly said by his parent in a fluid way that proposes the assistance of an innate ability, which is the Universal Grammar according to Chomsky. Even if the child is making mistakes, he is only mixing up letters and lacking the ability to categorize the words he is receiving. In the second video however, the infant is committing blatant mistakes, and while doing so they didn’t contradict with Chomsky’s theory as they’re making pronunciation mistakes and not completely messing up the sentence structure. The infant is following the basic rules of sentence composition and is only unable to pronounce the words in abstraction.
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