Language Acquisition

“Some early observation-based ideas about language acquisition were proposed by Plato, who felt that word-meaning mapping in some form was innate.

Additionally, Sanskrit grammarians debated for over twelve centuries whether humans’ ability to recognize the meaning of words was god-given (possibly innate) or passed down by previous generations and learned from already established conventions: a child learning the word for cow by listening to trusted speakers talking about cows.[8]

Philosophers in ancient societies were interested in how humans acquired the ability to understand and produce language well before empirical methods for testing those theories were developed, but for the most part they seemed to regard language acquisition as a subset of man’s ability to acquire knowledge and learn concepts.[9]

Empiricists, like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, argued that knowledge (and, for Locke, language) emerge ultimately from abstracted sense impressions.

These arguments lean towards the “nurture” side of the argument: that language is acquired through sensory experience, which led to Rudolf Carnap‘s Aufbau, an attempt to learn all knowledge from sense datum, using the notion of “remembered as similar” to bind them into clusters, which would eventually map into language.[10]

Proponents of behaviorism argued that language may be learned through a form of operant conditioning. In B. F. Skinner‘s Verbal Behavior (1957), he suggested that the successful use of a sign, such as a word or lexical unit, given a certain stimulus, reinforces its “momentary” or contextual probability.

Since operant conditioning is contingent on reinforcement by rewards, a child would learn that a specific combination of sounds stands for a specific thing through repeated successful associations made between the two. A “successful” use of a sign would be one in which the child is understood (for example, a child saying “up” when they want to be picked up) and rewarded with the desired response from another person, thereby reinforcing the child’s understanding of the meaning of that word and making it more likely that they will use that word in a similar situation in the future. Some empiricist theories of language acquisition include the statistical learning theory. Charles F. Hockett of language acquisition, relational frame theoryfunctionalist linguisticssocial interactionist theory, and usage-based language acquisition.

Skinner’s behaviorist idea was strongly attacked by Noam Chomsky in a review article in 1959, calling it “largely mythology” and a “serious delusion.””


“B: You certainly don’t seem to care much if people laugh at you, Diogenes. Only yesterday I saw you begging for money from a statue! Would you care to explain that to me? I might have even laughed at you myself.

D: Begging from statues gets me used to being refused, young brother. Only then do I feel ready to try my luck with people.”

Samuel Alexander – Deface The Currency

The Lost Dialoges of Diogenes


James Ephraim Lovelock CH CBE FRS (26 July 1919 – 26 July 2022) was an English independent scientist, environmentalist and futurist. He is best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system.

With a PhD in medicine, Lovelock began his career performing cryopreservation experiments on rodents, including successfully thawing frozen specimens. His methods were influential in the theories of cryonics (the cryopreservation of humans). He invented the electron capture detector, and using it, became the first to detect the widespread presence of chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. While designing scientific instruments for NASA, he developed the Gaia hypothesis.

In the 2000s, he proposed a method of climate engineering to restore carbon dioxide–consuming algae. He was an outspoken member of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy, asserting that fossil fuel interests have been behind opposition to nuclear energy, citing the effects of carbon dioxide as being harmful to the environment, and warning of global warming due to the greenhouse effect. He wrote several environmental science books based upon the Gaia hypothesis from the late 1970s.

For decades he also worked for MI5, the British security service. Bryan Appleyard, writing in The Sunday Times, described him as “basically Q in the James Bond films“.”



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Kocaeli Üniversitesi Psikolojik Danışmanlık ve Rehberlik

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