Language Acquisition & Rebirth

The very interesting linguistic courses I took at University of Peradeniya exposed me to range of theories about language acquisition. Noam Chomsky's universal language and Skinner's behavioral approach were our focus. We thoroughly examined the similarities, dissimilarities, pros, cons of both theories.

Chomsky’s theory applies to all languages as they all contain nouns, verbs, consonants and vowels and children are ‘hard-wired’ to acquire the grammar.

Evidence to support Chomsky’s theory
  • Children learning to speak never make grammatical errors such as getting their subjects, verbs and objects in the wrong order. 
  • If an adult deliberately said a grammatically incorrect sentence, the child would notice. 
  • Children often say things that are ungrammatical such as ‘mama ball’, which they cannot have learnt passively. 
  • Mistakes such as ‘I drawed’ instead of ‘I drew’ show they are not learning through imitation alone. 
  • Chomsky used the sentence ‘colourless green ideas sleep furiously’, which is grammatical although it doesn’t make sense, to prove his theory: he said it shows that sentences can be grammatical without having any meaning, that we can tell the difference between a grammatical and an ungrammatical sentence without ever having heard the sentence before, and that we can produce and understand brand new sentences that no one has ever said before. 

Evidence against Chomsky’s theory

Critics of Chomsky’s theory say that although it is clear that children don’t learn language through imitation alone, this does not prove that they must have an LAD – language learning could merely be through general learning and understanding abilities and interactions with other people.

Although I agree with Chomsky, I always felt that there is something missing in all those theories. I believe that parapsychological factors play a major role in language acquisition. In other words linguistic competencies pass from one life to another. Buddhism explains that our cognitive abilities, mental developments passes through various forms we take in samsara. There are incidents where when hypnotized people speaks language they have never heard of. For example A French man who was under Edgar Cayce's hypnotic influence had spoken very fluent English. It is said that he had no great knowledge in English in his life before. Wouldnt this explain Chomsky's Black Box?

There is almost no research done regarding the role of parasychological factors in Language acquisition.

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