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The Bases of Language Acquisition: Some Questions

  • Paula Menyuk

Abstract

The history of explanatory theories of language acquisition is largely a story of the changing views of the nature of man and his physiological and psychological capacities. As views of these capacities changed or varied, so did explanations of language acquisition. Since a great deal of the theorizing took place in the absence of detailed description of the process, differing theories were based on prejudices toward accepting theories that predicted what was known about stages in the acquisition of language or theories that explained behavioral changes that occurred under certain conditions of teaching language. This has led to two contrasting kinds of theories (Slobin, 1971): those that suggest a linguistic or cognitive predisposition on the part of the human child to acquire language, and those that suggest that language acquisition, like all other learning tasks, can be explained by the principles of S-R learning. In the past decade, language acquisition has been examined in much greater detail than in previous years and with children from varying cultural backgrounds and of varying sensory-motor and cognitive capacities. Although a great deal of the data are still missing, these studies indicate that the way to determine the bases for language acquisition is to observe the child, examine the context in which language is acquired, and then probe for experimental validation of the descriptions obtained.

Keywords

Language Development Autistic Child Semantic Relation Language Acquisition Deaf Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Menyuk
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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