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  • By: Deborah Chen Pichler & Diane Lillo-Martin
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

Nativist approaches to language acquisition maintain that humans are born with complex, innate linguistic knowledge, often referred to as a language acquisition device containing universal grammar (UG), which constrains and facilitates the process of language learning, depending on appropriate language input. Generally concomitant with this approach are assumptions that linguistic knowledge is domain specific and therefore not derivable from general cognitive knowledge and, furthermore, that language acquisition is subject to a critical period and is compromised in cases of degraded or delayed input. Current acquisition research within the nativist tradition stems from Noam Chomsky’s landmark criticism of B. F. Skinner’s behaviorist proposal, which characterized language learning as a process of stimulus and response. Chomsky argued that behaviorist approaches fail to account for the fact that ...

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