Posts Tagged ‘Mind’
Children learn language from the evidence they encounter. They can acquire any language, English, Tamil, Arabic or any human language they encounter. The grammatical sentences that the children acquire are positive evidences. Explanations, corrections of wrong sequences, and ungrammatical sentences are negative evidences. The universal grammar theory claims that evidence other than positive evidence cannot play a critical role. That is, the child must learn mainly from positive examples of what people actually say.
Children acquire their first language despite wide differences in their situations within single culture or across different cultures. Children attain same grammatical competence although the inputs they get vary from one child to another. The knowledge of language the children get clearly reflects their experience. Children imitate what they actually hear. Imitation provides positive evidence. But imitation is not the only means by which a child learns. Correction also makes a child learns from its mistakes. That is, when the child makes mistakes his parents correct them. This way a child acquire knowledge to some extent.
Language is a creation of the mind. This mental capacity makes one human. Linguistic theory aims to understand this mental capacity. The questions that arise are, ‘what is the knowledge of language?’ and ‘how is the mind structured to acquire knowledge of language?’. We cannot directly examine the mind so we need to find the indirect methods to investigate. The best methodology is to examine closely selected sentences and phrases that native speakers of a language judge to be possible, impossible, and marginal.
The speaker has the knowledge of language in his mind and he uses this knowledge to produce or understand the language. What people say can be distorted. For example, people make mistakes when they are afraid, drunk or tired. These mistakes cannot be considered as part of knowledge.