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Nature Vs. Nurture – Learning a new language

The debate of nature versus nurture has been around for a long time. The essence of the argument is the debate between whether or not a child is born with knowledge of their surroundings as well as languages, or if they are taught as they grow older. Behavioral theories seem to favor the fact that children are not bestowed with knowledge as they come into the world, that they will imitate what they hear and through positive reinforcement, pick up the language. As opposed to this, some believe that a child will pick up the language they hear their parents speak as they are in the womb. Or have ingrained knowledge of their surroundings in their genetic markup, with a steady increase as they grow in the 9 months prior to birth.

The behavior theories also agree that language is not acquired through genetics, but is picked up in due course as children try to imitate the speech that they hear. The “nurture” theory originated in ancient Grecian times, and has persisted with time as more and more scholars try to prove or deny it. The language acquisition in children being a result of nature has a lot of backing in scholarly discussion as well, In the area of genetics especially. There are certain formations of habits that a child begins to exhibit while still in the womb, some of which are completely different, that show the acquisition of “nature” induced phenomenon in a child as it grows. The argument is that children don’t necessarily imitate all that they hear, and are selective with what replication they exhibit. This reflects a personality of their own which is made plainer as they grow older. The rules of languages are taught at a certain age, but the speeds with which languages are picked up vary, which is a point in favor of the “nurture” theorists.

Furthermore, there are different time limits to habit formation in children as they reach the age of five, they will pick up very particular habits or use language in an inflectional overgeneralization, when they say words like “goed” or “mouses”. This language structure is common in children of a certain age, with words being put in front of one another and grammar being patchy at best, which is a point made in favor of the “nature” theorists. Sounds are also emphasized in creating a language structure, with different pitches being used to describe certain words or questions. This leads to a distinct ability to place certain values on language as the child grows older, thus the notion of nature versus nurture remains heavily debated.


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