Discuss what you consider to be the importance of social environment and innate faculties in acquisition of language? - Discusses theories behind how and why a child learns language.

Essay by stephanie1820High School, 12th gradeA-, February 2004

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The acquisition of language has been a fascination for over 2000 years because of the belief that Ontogenesis (the study of linguistic development) would give clues to Phylogenesis (the linguistic development of the human race). The linguistic development of an individual is one of many human functions which have been included in the 'nature vs. nurture' question, and linguists and psychologists had formulated many different theories as to how children use information possessed about language, either through exposure and experience or innately, to become proficient speakers of one or more language.

Some theories suggest that the factors which most affect and encourage language development are social. The way in which parents or caregivers talk to their children, Child Directed Utterances, is thought to encourage them to learn their language. (First, CDU aim to attract and maintain the baby's interest. A higher pitch is usually adopted along with exaggerated intonation and stress.

The use of questions and commands involves the child and provokes a reaction from him, and the frequent use of the child's name (whilst using pronouns less) will ensure attention is held. The adults try to break their language down into manageable chunks, for example by the repetition and partial repetition of their own words, and by using fewer verbs modifiers and function words. The conversation is made more predictable by keeping topics in the 'here and now'. The adult avoids abstract concepts, by keeping to the present tense and refers to things the child can actually see). Although it may help, it cannot be claimed that CDU greatly increase the rate of a child's linguistic development. CDU is only a fairly recent, western, concept, in a society where parents are obsessed with giving their children a head start. In some societies children are virtually ignored and are given...