Re[2]: We don't "learn" language!

Subject: Re[2]: We don't "learn" language!
From: "Arlen P. Walker" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 1995 13:04:00 -0600

I don't know how this thread started, but it is interesting. You are
right: we don't teach our children how to speak. I am continually
amazed at the ability of my 2 1/2 yr son to form sentences, and
correctly use such constructs as 'you and I', 'do, did, does', etc.
We certainly didn't sit down with him and teach him about present and
past tense, first and second person, etc!

No, we don't teach by explaining all the parts of speech, etc. But still, we
*do* teach. We teach by example. Children mimic what they hear. It's well
documented that children who are talked to (either in conversation or by
being read to) speak earlier than those who do not. There's no need for any
sort of special "language rules" to be wired in to our brain. After all,
children hear their langauge almost constantly for a year (give or take)
before beginning to use it themselves, and have heard it for years before
they speak more than halting phrases. Does it take time to change from
"goed" to "went." Of course. Unlearning is always harder than learning. (And
yes, they learned it. They learned the past tense pattern from all the other
past tense verbs they've heard.)

A brain is the finest pattern-matching engine we know of. It constantly examines
new data and produces possible patterns out of the seeming chaos it is fed.
There's no "hardwiring" necessary, except for this pattern-matching ability, as
everything else is produced by the patterns around us.

The brain is born knowing how to learn. That's all it needs. From there on it
simply pays attention.

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 124

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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