"Learning" Language

Subject: "Learning" Language
From: Michael Gos <GOS -at- DT3 -dot- DT -dot- UH -dot- EDU>
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 1995 14:41:09 -0600

Arlen writes
"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."

But the current research suggests those rules indeed ARE hardwired into our
brains as our the speech sounds of every language on earth. As we get older,
we learnwhich sounds belong in our language and lose the rest.

As for why children who are talked to speak earlier, the one thing not hard-
wired is vocabulary. Children are learning words, and the more they are talked
to the quicker they learn.

And yes, the Hardwiring does disappear a short time later. Latest estimates are
at age 7. Then language is learned, not acquired. Akmajian has a good chapter
on this in *Linguistics:An introduction to Language and Communication*

Michael Gos
University of Houston

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