The Innateness TheoryChomsky
By Jess & Alex
• To understand and apply the innateness
theory by Chomsky.
• To understand how this theory links in with
children’s acquisition of language.
• Understand criticisms of the theory and why
they are opposed to it.
• “Language is an innate faculty”.
• “We are born with a set of rules about
language in our heads”.
• “The universal grammar is the basis upon
which all human languages build”.
• Word order
• The teacher gave a lecture
• SUBJECT VERB OBJECT
• 75% of the world‘s languages use this order
“We are born with a set of rules”
• The system of principles, conditions and rules
that are elements or properties of all human
• Universal grammar is a theory of
knowledge its concern is with the internal
structure of the human mind.
Innate Hypothesis 1:
• All children with all levels of knowledge can
• Children can acquire language effortlessly.
• Children can acquire language in a relatively
short period of time.
• Language is a complex system.
• A child does not have to be formally taught
to acquire language.
Innate Hypothesis 2:
• Children discover the system of language from
an unsystematic and small amount of data.
• Language acquisition requires very little
• Reinforcement (reward) has a very small role in
• Language acquisition is a very active process.
Children say things that they have never heard
• Infants are born with a Language Acquisition
• Exposure to language is all that is needed for a
child to discover the system of language. This is
critical and is evidenced by a number of cases of
children in isolation e.g.: Genie
• Start video from 6 mins onwards until 12 mins.
Children produce sentences they have
never heard before:
•“No eat cake”
•“It‘s raining. Where is
Create a new language:
No mother tongue
Reduced syntax and vocabulary
Can become a used language e.g.: Creole
• The language is then enriched and it
becomes a full language which takes one
• “You know my Feezicks Professah, you know
da bolo head one? Some AKAMAI!”
• Definition: Someone who is very smart
• Translation: “You know my Physics Professor
at the University of Hawaii Manoa? The one
with the shinny bald head? He is the most
intelligent man I have ever known!”
• People often speak ungrammatically
• Grammar changes due to social and historical
• Chomsky reduces language to its grammar –
Criticisms and Counter Arguments
• The psychologist Jerome Bruner concluded
that language acquisition not only depends
on LAD but also LASS or Language Acquisition
• The environment a child grows up can also
have a major effect on language acquisition.
• Some people also think that the LAD is an
abstract concept and lacks adequate scientific
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The Innateness Theory- Chomsky. A theory for Children's language acquisition.