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Biplob Prodhan
  • 1 month ago
  • 43
Discuss critically the Nativist Theory of language learning

 

Discuss critically the Nativist Theory of language learning. [‘17]

Ans. The Nativist Theory states that humans are biologically programmed to gain knowledge. Noam Chomsky is the main theorist associated with this theory.

According to the Nativist Theory, everybody learns a language not because they are subjected to similar conditioning process, but because they possess an inborn capacity. This capacity is universal by definition.

Chomsky argues that all humans have a Language Acquisition Device (LAD). The LAD contains knowledge of grammatical rules common to all languages. The LAD also allows children to understand the rules of whatever language they are listening to. Chomsky also developed the concepts of transformational grammar, surface structure and deep structure.

Transformational grammar transforms a sentence. Surface structures are words which are actually written. Deep structure is the underlying message or meaning of a sentence.

 Innate is children’s ability to learn a language. We have an innate predisposition to learn language and learning is in our genetics. According to Chomsky, the innate knowledge is embodied in a little black box of sorts, a Language Acquisition Device (LAD). All human beings are genetically equipped with the ability that enables them to acquire language. It regards children’s language as a reasonable system rather than something full of errors.

Indeed, Chomsky’s nativist view of language learning emphasized LAD and played down the role of the linguistic environment. For him, input served merely as a trigger to activate the device.

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