Michael Matthews January 26, 2011
• Theories of Language acquisition:
o Nativists- in born
o Learn through direct reinforcement/ punishment
o Problems- doesn’t explain creativity in utterances or errors in speech
o Biologically and physiologically equipped for speech and language
o LAD (language acquisition device) input, processing, theorizing, grammatical
o Critical Period most proficient at learning a language between 2 and puberty.
o Limitations:Acquisition not completed as early as nativists thought (adults can learn, and
do so effectively). Diversity of world languages and grammars hard to explain
o Account of grammar and its development is limited.
o Language is learned/ used in a social context
o Biological contribution supports language learning
o Different forms of language
o Let’s learn to sign
• Kanzi- Bonobo Chimpanzee (1980 born, 500 word lexigrams)
• Koko- Gorilla (40 years old, 1000 signs, internet chat, keeps pets)
• Do animals have language? Can they learn it?
o Vocabulary- yes can acquire quite a number of words Michael Matthews