Children learning their first language accomplish a monumental task. During a developmental period in which their cognitive skills are typically regarded as relatively meager or immature (Brainerd, 1978; Flavell, 1963), children acquire with relative ease the complex system that makes possible language comprehension and production. The complexities of the system have resulted in many hypotheses concerning the nature of language, including discussions of its phonological characteristics (e.g., Jakobson, 1968), its syntactic and morphological characteristics (e.g., Chomsky, 1965; Fillmore, 1968), the nature of the lexicon (e.g., Katz, 1972; Leech, 1974; Lyons, 1977), the interaction of discourse needs and intentions with the semantic/syntactic system (e.g., Sadock, 1974; Searle, 1969), and the acquisition of this complex array of knowledge (Maratsos, in press; Wexler & Culicover, 1980). There is considerable disagreement concerning the answers to the key questions in each of the above areas, but one fact is acknowledged by all theorists- between the time of birth and their fifth birthday, children acquire much of their first language, a significant but apparently easy accomplishment on the part of each child.
KeywordsAssimilation Posit Tate Glean Rote
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