Noam Chomsky

Innateness Theory

Background:

  • Born: December 7th, 1928 in Philadelphia
  • Brilliant and curious child
  • University of Pennsylvania- PhD in linguistics
  • Zellig S. Harris (American scholar) moved Chomsky by his ideas about language and society

Description of Theory:

  • Believes children are born with the ability to learn any language
  • 'Language acquisition device' or LAD (language learning tools)
  • Children only have to learn new vocabulary and how to form sentences
  • Children can't learn language through imitation entirely

L.A.D.

  • A pre-programmed box
  • A function of the brain specifically for learning language
  • An innate biological function of humans (like learning to walk)
  • Encodes the primary or major principles of language and grammatical structures in the brain
  • Enables children to analyze language and extract the basic rules

Important Ideas:

  • Critical age to learn language is between 3 and 10 years old
  • ALL children share the same innateness- no matter what language
  • Language learning is not something the child does- it is something that happens to the child

Mechanism of Innate Theory

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According to Chomsky, language acquisition formulates from innate processes

So when children hear adult speech (input) they use the LAD functions (general language learning principles and grammatical knowledge or 'rules') and then comes the child's speech (output)

Evidence to Support:

  • Children learning to speak never make grammatical errors (mixing up the order of subject, verb, & object)
  • Children will notice and adult deliberately saying a grammatically incorrect sentence
  • Mistakes such as "I drawed" instead of "I drew" prove imitation is the not the only teaching factor
  • Chomsky used the sentence "colourless green ideas sleep furiously" to show, 1. that sentences can be grammatical without having any meaning 2. we can tell the difference between a grammatical and ungrammatical without hearing it before and 3. we can produce and understand brand new sentences

Interesting Facts:

  • Noam is still alive today
  • Apart from being an American linguist and cognitive scientist, he is also a philosopher, historian, logician, social critic, and political activist
  • He has many academic and humanitarian awards
  • He is a highly respected and sought-after thinker
  • Continues to author new books and contribute to a wide variety of journals

Works Cited (information):

  • "Noam Chomsky." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.
  • "EL1102: Lecture No. 13 (Part 1)." EL1102: Lecture No. 13 (Part 1). N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.
  • "4.1 Child Language Acquisition Theory – Chomsky, Crystal, Aitchison & Piaget." I Love English Language. N.p., 10 Dec. 2007. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

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Works Cited (images):

  • "Noam Chomsky on the American Propaganda Machine and the "Weaponization" of Media and Information." Noam Chomsky on the American Propaganda Machine and the "Weaponization" of Media and Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.
  • "EL1102: Lecture No. 13 (Part 1)." EL1102: Lecture No. 13 (Part 1). N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.
  • "Linguistic Oriented Theories,behaviorism and Innatism." Linguistic Orien