In 1981 the linguist Noam Chomsky, who had already proposed that language was not learned but innate, made an even bolder claim. The grammars of all languages, he said, can be described by a set of universal rules or principles, and the differences among those grammars are due to a finite set of options that are also innate.
Noam Chomsky's fame initially arose from his work as a linguistic philosopher and his still controversial suggestion that the human brain is somehow equipped at birth with a Universal Grammar out of which all human languages later develop. It is mainly with regard to this aspect of Chomsky's thought that I wish to comment here.
If you trawl the net, you will find that the majority of material on language acquisition - whether of a first or a second language - is strongly Nativist and often simply takes it for granted that Noam Chomsky and Fodor have, between them, swept away all possibility of opposition. In the English-speaking world - the French, for example, are far more skeptical - the Universal Grammar or the language module rules supreme.
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