Re: "Learning" Language

Subject: Re: "Learning" Language
From: Amy Welden <awelden -at- MIND -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 1995 11:33:26 -0800

Karen Mayer writes:

> The current research by *some individuals* does not necessarily mean the
> theory is fact. Have they isolated a gene for this "hardwiring?" If so,
> can they distinguish which language the gene is hardcoded for? Do Chinese
> people have a gene for a Chinese "dialect", whereas French people have a
> gene for learning French? Since the grammar of Chinese is so different
> from French, one would suspect, based on the hardwiring theory, that the
> genes would be easily distinguishable...

The more I read about Chomsky's Deep Structure, the less I understand about it.
But, this much I do understand: It's not a particular language's grammar that's
hardwired, it's the underlying categories that allow us to learn the particular
grammar that we're exposed to. The deep structures are more abstract than
specific rules of grammar.

There's some compelling evidence that all children, regardless of the
language they speak, go through the same phases while they are acquiring
They go through a one-word stage, then a two-word stage with the same
of object and then the verb. They then start putting endings on the verbs
in the same
order: progressive endings (ing), tenses, etc...

As far as isolating a gene for this, they have isolated a gene in a family
in England
whose members can't learn grammar. They have trouble creating sentences that
make sense and can't put the proper endings on verbs. It's a very specific
that they can trace through the family. It goes beyond just exposure to

Amy Welden
awelden -at- mind -dot- net

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