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language acquisition

A B C D E G H I J K L M N O P R S T Ü V W

Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language (in other words, gain the ability to be aware of language and to understand it), as well as to produce and use words and sentences to communicate.

Human language capacity is represented in the brain. Even though human language capacity is finite, one can say and understand an infinite number of sentences, which is based on a syntactic principle called recursion. Evidence suggests that every individual has three recursive mechanisms that allow sentences to go indeterminately. These three mechanisms are: relativizationcomplementation and coordination.

In regard to the production of speech sounds, all typical humans are physiologically alike. It has been shown repeatedly that children learn the language of those who bring them up from infancy. These are often the biological parents, but one’s first language is acquired from environment and learning, not from physiological inheritance. Adopted infants, whatever their physical characteristics and whatever the language of their biological parents, acquire the language of the adoptive parents.

Closely related to the ability to categorize is the ability to differentiate a category, for example, tense, from the mental structure, which it represents, in this
case, time. These mental structures are known as ‘concepts’. To learn a language, a child must acquire the concepts that underlie linguistic structures. It is not
possible to master grammatical categories, such as tense, in any language without mastering concepts such as time, space, modality, causality, and number.
Young children’s errors in tense indicate that they do not grasp the concept of time.

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