Language Acquisition: Part II

in steempress •  6 months ago



I think the most appropriate theory to explain this phenomenon is the Nativist theory. As we know, this is a recognized theory because it highlights the idea of the importance of the biological or innate abilities that people have to acquire the language in the general. The Nativist theory, also gives us a clear explanation of how people use grammatical properties, when they are learning the language, which are supposed they didn’t know or didn’t use before. So it means that all children have innate capacities to acquire language naturally and of course, use its grammatical properties consciously and also unconsciously because in most of the cases, all these grammatical properties don’t have to be learned, we born with them. That’s why there are some learners who domain aspects of the language without being exposed to it before. It means they go far beyond the input.


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The Principles and Parameters are features very famous when we talk about Universal Grammar and language. Even though, it is relevant to say that these principles and parameters constraints the grammar of languages due to they make that certain structures of languages will be possible or not. For example, the Structure-dependency principle asserts that knowledge of language relies on the structural relationship in the sentence rather than on the sequence of words. To understand this, we first need to establish the concept of phrase structure.

For example: The girl bought a candy.


It breaks up into Noun Phrase: The girl, Verb Phrase: bought a candy. But the VP further breaks up into a verb Sentence: bought, noun phrase: a candy. This phrase also breaks up into smaller constituents. The noun phrase: the girl consists of a determiner: the, and a Noun: girl, while the noun phrase: a candy consists of a determiner: a and a noun: candy.


However, also we have the Head Parameter which specifies the order of certain elements in a language. Any phrase will contain one element which is “essential”. This element is called the head of the phrase (Cook 1988: 7). For instance, in the verb phrase, “liked him very much”, liked is the head. The head in English appears on the left of the rest of the phrase, while in Japanese, it appears on the right. The innate, universal, head parameters specifies that there are just these two possibilities, and that a language chooses one consistently; that is, “a language has the heads on the same side in all its phrases” (Cook 1988:9). Parameters reduce the variation between languages to just two possibilities.


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