Nature vs. Nurture in Language Development

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What is Language? Language is a tool we have been using to understand and develop our thinking. We have been: Learning about the thinking of others by reading Expressing our own thinking through writing Exchanging ideas with others by speaking and listening Thought and language can contribute to clear, effective thinking and communication. Language is a system of symbols for thinking and communicating. At 5 years of age human is expected to have; Articulated speech, Vocabulary of more than 6000 words and Observe grammar rules. An Average speaker is expected to have; 150 words per minute, 20,000 and 40,000 alternatives and error rates below 0.1%. There are two theories concerning Nature or Rationalism in Language and these are the Nativism and Child Talk model of Chapman et al. (1992). In the child talk theory the child’s needs will enable him to formulate speech based on his past experiences. Nature or rationalist theory is based on the following study by prominent people in human history: 1. PLATO

knowledge and understanding:
* innate
* biological
* genetically
* common nature
2. Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650)
Ideas existed within human beings prior to experience.
* God
* ability of the environment and the mind to influence and initiate behavior * reflex action (unintended behaviors)
3. Kant (1724-1804)
“A priori” knowledge as illustrated below.

4. CHOMSKY
The Nativist Perspective: Human beings are born with an innate capacity for language. Universal Grammar
* An innate property of the human mind
* Growth of language is analogous to the development of a bodily organ * Abstract that it could not be learned at all
Principles of UG:
1. Language is innate
2. Our brains contain a dedicated special-purpose learning device that has evolved for language alone. * domain specificity, autonomy or modularity

Nurture states that knowledge originates in the environment and comes in through the senses. This theory is called Empiricism defines as the importance of sensory experience as the basis of all knowledge. Empiricism is otherwise known as the doctrine that says sense experience is the only source of knowledge, a belief that experience alone is the source of all knowledge. Empiricism is essentially a theory of knowledge which asserts that all knowledge is derived from sense experience. It rejects the notion that the mind is furnished with a range of concepts or ideas prior to experience. Three principal British philosophers who are associated with empiricism are John Locke (1632-1704), George Berkeley (1685-1753), and David Hume (1711-76). in philosophy, a doctrine that affirms that all knowledge is based on experience, and denies the possibility of spontaneous ideas or a priori thought. Empiricism (greek εμπειρισμός, from empirical, latin experientia - the experience) is generally regarded as being at the heart of the modern scientific method, that our theories should be based on our observations of the world rather than on intuition or faith; that is, empirical research and a posteriori inductive reasoning rather than purely deductive logic.  Other basis of empiricism are:

1. ARISTOTLE
* Truth and knowledge to be found outside of ourselves by using our senses. 2. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
(1712 – 1778)
* Emile: the hero learns about life through his experiences in life 3. John Dewey (1859 – 1952)
* Structured experience matters and disciplinary modes of inquiry could allow the development of the mind. 4. Edward Thorndike (1874 – 1949)
STIMULUS - RESPONSE
* people learned through a trial-and-error approach
* mental connections are formed through positive responses to particular stimuli * learning was based on an association between sense impressions and an impulse to action * structure the environment to ensure certain stimuli that would ‘produce’ learning

5. Psychologist B.F. Skinner...
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