Language Acquisition Device and the Origin of Language

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Briana Sobecks


The origin of language in humans has been a subject of considerable debate in psychology. Noam Chomsky was a pioneer of the Language Acquisition Device theory, in which he states that humans have an innate ability to learn language. Lan-guage is a highly complex faculty, and since even small children can grasp its principles, Chomsky argues that they must be born with the ability to process and produce language. Since children are able to compose unique, grammatically correct sentences, their faculty goes beyond what could be achieved by replicating learned behavior. Top cognitive psychologists, including Michael Tomasello and John Macnamara, posit that language ability in children mirrors other learned behaviors. Children interpret statistical information to form grammatically correct sentences, adjusting their speech patterns using corrections from their parents. There is compelling evidence for both theories, but more work must be done to fully under-stand the development of this incredible human ability.

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