Genie wild child...Language…Is it In You?

Essay by delldeskCollege, Undergraduate March 2008

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What is language? Language is a complex communication system that involves the use of abstract symbols to convey unlimited messages. In other words, it is combination of gestured, spoken, and/or written words to communicate meaning. The on going dispute between the ways language is learned is ever-lasting. On the one hand you have the idea that language is innate and the humans have language inborn; stated by Chomsky, and on the other you have the belief that language is directly and only related to environment and stimulus. In my opinion I am on the side with Chomsky. He believes that human beings are born with a unique competence for language, built into their brains. I can confidently agree with him according to Maya Pines, The Civilizing of Genie, and my readings.

In the 1970 a “wild child” named Genie was found in California. She is, in my eyes, living evidence of the theory that language is leaned by exposure to language, but the ability to speak is hard wired.

By Genie’s teenage years she had the language level of a very young child (about age 3 or 4), and by age of 24 has the grammar skill a 5 year old child; but none the less she still has the ability of language. Among human beings, four-week-old babies can recognize the difference between some 40 consonants that are used in human languages, as shown by how their sucking and heartbeats change when different consonant sounds are presented by audiotape. These two facts show that competence must be activated by exposure to language at the proper time, to allow the inner language ability to flourish. Due to the fact hat Genie was not introduced to language she is retarded in that field; while normal four-week-old babies are...