14 thoughts on “Language”

  1. Acquisition of language maybe attributed environmental, genetic and cognitive factors of which the proposition that human beings are biologically programmed to acquire language is a leading argument.

    Evidences suggesting this innate feature of language development are :
    1. Rapid progress that the children make in language development in the absence of any formal teaching.
    2. Studies by Leneberg says that there is distinguishing features that distinguish humans from primates like certain characteristics of our brain, voice box the shape of our teeth and tongue that help in our language development.
    3. This view of Leneberg is supported by Geschwind who says that this specialisation within human brain makes language acquisition a uniquely human trait.
    4. Research by Tecumseh Fitch on on the vocal tract anatomy shows that mammalian vocal tracts are flexible enough for us to help formation of speech.
    5. Findings by Elliot suggest that there maybe a critical period for children to develop language easily, beyond which it becomes tough for them.
    6. We also note from the findings of Jackson that babbling sounds produced by young infants are very similar across cultures and nationalities.

    In light of the above evidences, we can say that human beings are programmed to acquire language and that it is a uniquely human trait.

  2. Psychologist attributed language development to distinct factors like biology, environment and cognition.

    Theories which gives the evidence that human beings are biological programmed to acquire language are:
    1. Leneberg theory showed that certain characteristics of the brain, the larynx and the face distinguish Human’s from other primates and this inturn allows the Hunan’s to develop language.

    2. Geschwind supported Leneberg view and emphasized that specialization in human brain makes language uniquely a human trait and leads to the development of language.

    3. The progress in child from babbling to utter a word and then to the formation of sentence without any explicit lessons clearly shows that language is acquired through biological programming programming​.

    Hence, development of language is continuous process and it beings because of our inherit biological programming to acquire language and this is the unique trait in humans.

  3. Language is unique human trait , however it doesnt maen that only humans communicate .According to the theory that language is innate it is proposed that humans have an innate disposition to acquire language rapidly.

    Leneberg provides evidence that biological basis of language are exclusively found in humans like certain parts of brain, larynx,face ,mouth and teeth that aid linguistic skills .

    Chomsky provides evidence that without formal training , a human child has tendency to learn language in initial 5 to 6 years of development.

    These evidences are however not proven strictly but theory applies for most of the cases.Hence other primates communicate by other means like bees by dancing, but the property of communication by language is exclusive to humans.

  4. Language can be understood as processed voice/sound into meaningful information. Language is a unique feature of human being, and no two people speak exactly alike.

    #Human beings having speech processing area, convolution of Broca is biologically programmed to articulate speech.

    #Human beings have been biologically evolved to learn different languages. Our physiological structure like the shape of teeth, mouth, flexibility all effects speech. Like in Sanskrit/Hindi grammar there is uccharan-sthaan (every letter having distinct touch of the mouth) Talavya ‘sa’, to utter tough of tongue and hard palate is definitely required, danti ‘sha’ stress on teeth and so forth.

    #Highy cognitive and perceptual skills enables us to develop language even without formal training. A child’s brain tries to articuate Tact, verbal operant given by mother and language learning develops.

    #LAD (Language Acquisition Device), an instinctive mental capacity which enables an infant to acquire and produce language(Noam Chomsky, 1960s).All infants, regardless of their nationality begin to babble at about the same age and with many of the same sounds

    Thus, we can say that human beings are biologically programmed to acquire language.

  5. Language is our primary means of communicating thought. Capacity to use language distinguishes humans from other organisms. Without language, our ability to transmit information, acquire knowledge, and cooperate with others would be hindered.

    Nativist approach to language suggests that language development is genetically determined and that innate mechanisms direct it. A pioneer in this area, Noam Chomsky suggested that human brain has a neural system,”Language Acquisition Device”(LAD) that not only allows humans understand the language structure, but also provides strategies and techniques to learn unique characteristics of the native language. He also suggested that all world’s languages share a common underlying structure called” Universal Grammar”

    Nativist approach also suggests that language learning is easy and spontaneous for children during “critical period” that ranges from infancy to puberty. Any normal child minimally exposed to adult language during this period develops native speaker’s competence and fluency in that language without any special effort.
    Research shows that all children, regardless of their culture and language seem to go through the same sequence of language development.

    Most important evidence comes from our brain having two regions in left hemisphere that are critical for language- “Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area.” Damage to these areas leads to “aphasia”-breakdown in language.

    Although nativist approach tells us language is an innate ability, it should not be forgotten that learning plays a key role. Nature-Nurture debate continues.

  6. Language sets human apart from other living beings/ mammals. It allows humans to manipulate few symbols to think, learn, communicate a large no of ideas, concepts, thoughts which are beyond the basic survival value. It helps humans to be creative, to discuss past and plan future. Whereas other animals can communicate mostly for survival or at max imitate other’s voice.

    Evidences for biological programming-
    1)Infants all over the world utter their first word by their first birthday. And thereafter, an exponential rise in their vocabulary without much training shows that language acquisition is cultural-independent to a large extent.

    2) Injury to certain areas of Brain like Broca’s area in temporal lobe (Responsible for articulation of speech), Vernick’s area in parietal-occipital lobe(responsible for understanding speech) lead to impairment of the corresponding ability.

    3)Ability to acquire language to a great extent even if introduced to language very late in the sensitive period. Case of Jennie is a perfect example of the case.

    4)Ease with which a person acquires second language.

  7. Humans, in some sense, have always been a speaking animal even during of the time of Homo sapiens. These reasons show that humans have been equipped with the hardware needed for verbal language.

    1.) Leneberg showed that the difference in certain brain characteristics, larynx (voice box) and face (specifically mouth and teeth) of humans allows development of language.

    2.) Geschwind also agreed that specialization within human brain makes language a unique trait.

    3.) Chomsky’s well-documented findings suggested that without child’s rapid progress during first 5-6 years of language development, humans would never be able to acquire language as quickly.

    4.) This innate behavior also explains why language development is similar in children even with different backgrounds.

    Hence, there’s almost no doubt to why humans are biologically programmed to acquire language.

  8. Language is a unique human trait.Animals also possess the ability to communicate but there language is somewhat restricted to time period.They are apparently not capable of communicating about the past or the future.Also human beings are biologically programmed to acquire language.
    This was first proposed by Chomsky who pointed out that during the initial 5-6 years of age a child learns the language very fast that also without any formal training.This vision was more materialized when Leneberg noted that certain characteristics of the human brain,the larynx i.e voice box and face especially teeth and mouth are especially designed for language skills. Geschwind supported his idea to some extent and said that the specialization in brain is the main aspect of language.
    In a case study named ‘Wild child’, a girl trapped in a house for 13 years without any training whatsoever started to make giggle sound that supports the innate capability of language in human.
    155 words

  9. Humans are wired to learn and communicate through language. Homo Sapiens sit at the top of the ladder of language based on the degree of sophistication. Ours is the most intelligent form of language among all other life forms. Bees, for example, too can communicate with each other but their communication is quite limited; there are constraints based on context and they cannot elaborate something the way we humans can do. They do not have various characteristics of human language like semanticity, productivity, syntax, etc.

    It could be argued that language is biologically in-built in us or can be acquired. There are some strong evidences supporting the former case.

    1. Brain has a Broca area which is responsible for articulation. Damage to this part of the brain can lead to problems with articulation. Understanding, which is a separate brain part function, isn’t affected, though.

    2. The temporal-parietal lobe junction, if damaged, would lead to impairment in vocal understanding.

    Ergo, it is evident that language is wired in our brains.

    3. Overall, all language functions are governed by brain’s left hemisphere. Any damage here would result in difficulty in language acquisition and articulation. Speech paralysis could result in severe cases.

    4. Children all over the world follow the same path of language development. Cooing, babbling, etc. in children is patterned. It strongly suggests that language is innate in humans and not acquired.

    5. Over-generalization errors in children while learning language, which is because of productivity, also underscores the fact that humans are biologically programmed to acquire language.

  10. Humans have been biologically gifted to communicate and express with one another. In addition to the organs such as voice box, face, etc. our brain has been ‘preprogrammed’ in a way that we begin to imitate and learn communication.
    A child, since birth starts babbling, crying which turns into words and gradually meaningful sentences due to the inbuilt tendencies.
    Studies on a female chimpanzee by Gardner where the chimpanzee was taught to speak and respond to certain gestures suggested that even after proper training it is not as easy for other animals to communicate as it is for the humans, which is suggestive of the biological programming.
    Studies have been carried out against the argument that language is acquired and not innate which puts forward the learned behavior of humans that make them learn new phrases and sentences from their immediate environment. But the Gardner study proves that such isn’t the case with all species.
    Hence, it can be said that language and cognition are unique human traits.

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