- Presented by Noam Chomsky in 1959
- Chomsky argued that study of animal behavior in laboratory condition show nothing about how human beings learn language in natural conditions.
The Mentalist Theory
- Chomsky stressed active contribution of the child and minimized the importance of imitation and reinforcement
- Chomsky in “Review of verbal behaviour’ 1959 criticized the Behaviorists on the grounds of novelty and creativity of child language
- Chomsky and Leeneberg claims and observations serve as a framework of Mentalist Theory
Claim of Chomsky
- Chaild’s knowledge of their mother tongue derived from a Universal Grammar (UG) which specifies the essential from that any natural language can take
- Universal Grammar exists as a set of innate linguistic principles common to all possible human languages
- Chomsky called this biological ability as the language acquisition device (LAD)’
- Child constructs grammar through a process of hypothesis testing
- The past tense of verbs, for instance, is formed by adding ‘ed’ after the main verbs, so the child says,”goed” what psycho linguistic called ‘ ‘Over generalization’ e.g., they over generalize the use of the regular past suffis-ed to irregular verbs)
- Children create sentences by using rules rather than by merely repeating what they have heard.
- Chomsky proposition cannot be termed as Universal hypothesis based on the assumption that there are core and language specific rules in all language
- Core Rules- present in all natural languages
- Language specific rules mainly found in only, one or two languages’
- To activate the LAD experience of language input is necessary
- Mentalist Theory of language acquisition emphasizes the learner’s innate mental capability to learn language.
- Ability to learn language is inborn to a child
- Only Homo Sapiens has access to language developing qualities which are processed innately
- Eric Lenneberg’s (1967) assertion is that only human species can learn a language. Even though severely retarded human beings were able to develop the rudiments of language
- Lenneberg’s work provided empirical support for the built-in mental capacity for FLA
- Chomsky-LAD in human brain
The argument is that when a child acquire language they are usually exposed to poor or incorrect forms e.g., slips of the tongue , interruptions, false starts lapses.
Principles are innate but parameters also effect. HENCE YOU HAVE NOW THE IDEA ABOUT mentalism theory. Kindly share your reviews about theory in below comment.