Language Acquisition Device
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Language Acquisition Device (LAD)a hypothesized structure suggested by CHOMSKY (1962) as being innate in human beings and enabling them to easily acquire language. He bases his hypothesis on the observation that language is acquired apparently without effort in the first few years of life and the child can compose novel sentences never previously heard. The proposal is that humans have an innate predisposition to understand grammatical relationships, extract the ‘rules’ from the language they hear, and then use these in forming their own verbalizations. Not all psycholinguists agree with Chomsky s proposal, the most famous antagonist being the behaviourist psychologist B.F. Skinner (Verbal Behaviour, 1957), for whom ‘learning’ is the only explanation for language acquisition.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000