Itard, though, believed that Victor had become retarded because of his years of living in the wild. He believed he could civilize Victor. Itard's diary of his work with Victor makes this one of the most documented cases of wild children throughout history.
In fact, the diary served as the basis for Truffaut's movie, called The Wild Child. One of the strangest chapters of this story is the timing of the premiere, for Truffaut's movie about history's most famous wild child opened exactly one week after Genie was discovered. In true Hollywood fashion, the Genie team took advantage of this coincidence. They arranged their own private screening.
In charge of the event was hospital chief of psychiatry Howard Hansen. We had an entourage up the street to the Los Feliz theater.
It was awe-inspiring to us, because here was the first case that had been documented in any scientific way, and here we were having an opportunity to see a film portrayal of that. Itard inspired everyone at the screening.
They just sat in silence for a bit, because the film was so powerful in itself, and then the analogy with Genie began to hit. It was like, here history was repeating itself, and everybody there thought, 'Here is an opportunity to learn something. A government agency, the National Institute of Mental Health, had agreed to fund a scientific project on Genie.
Now, it was time to focus the direction of research. It soon became clear, though, that participants were unlikely to agree on one course of action. I mean, each expert, each person in their own discipline, thought, 'Oh, wow! I can do this! Look what we can do! Look what we might learn from this, a girl who has appeared out of nowhere. Rigler, too, was hooked on Genie's case.
She had a quality of somehow connecting with people, which developed more and more, but was present, really, from the start. She had a way of reaching out without saying anything, but just somehow by the kind of look in her eyes, and people wanted to do things for her. Genie was now fourteen years old. The timing was fitting, because Rigler wanted to know, could the clock be turned back for Genie?
In particular, could a teenager still learn to talk? This had already been the subject of much debate by the time Genie was discovered.
Chomsky declared that we acquire language not just because we are taught it, but because we are born with the principles of language. They're in our genes.
We have language, Chomsky said, because of nature, not just nurture. Then, along came a neuropsychologist to add his own twist to the theory. Eric Lenneberg agreed we're born with the principles of language, but acclaimed there is a deadline for applying them. If a first language isn't acquired by puberty, he said, it may be too late. Chomsky and Lenneberg rocked the field. They were hot.
Linguistics was in. It was the perfect time to test the new ideas, recalls linguist Elissa Newport. What this hypothesis was looking for was some more direct evidence. But of course, you don't do these experiments. One never wishes to deprive somebody of language during the critical period to see what happens. It happened that, at that time, when that would have been the right thing for Lenneberg's hypothesis, Genie was discovered.
She was a graduate student in linguistics. She would put the critical period hypothesis to its first real test. This is one of the first videotapes of Curtiss's work with Genie.
And sometimes, we would just stand at a window and she would take my hand and point out the window at a panorama before us, and I wouldn't really know exactly what it was she wanted to know the word for, but she would persist until she at least got a new word.
Kent was concerned that with the growing number of people involved in her case, Genie wouldn't be able to form single, dependable relationships. So, he set out to be her surrogate parent. JAMES KENT: I wanted to part of her sort of ordinary life, so I would frequently be there in the morning when she had breakfast and be there in the evening when she went to bed, read her a story, kiss her good night, turn off the lights, go, and then do things during the day.
When she became—When she had sort of the important things that she had to go through, like physical exams or things like that, I would come along with her, as though she were my child. She was very special to me. Yeah, I was very attached to her. The first time she saw a helium balloon, she couldn't believe them, the fact that she could let them go up and pull them back down again. She had, you know, the kind of laugh that some people have, and it's just a full-out chuckle; it's so contagious, everybody around them starts to laugh.
Well, they made her laugh like that. SUSAN CURTISS: One of my memories was that we would go to a place, say, Woolworth's, where there would be a stand of spools of thread, and spools where each color thread would incrementally change from the spools next to it, and she wanted a word for every different hue. And, I didn't know. I mean, I had a box of 64 Crayola crayons as a child, and I remembered, you know, burnt sienna and all these colors that I tried to extract from my memory, but I don't—English doesn't have words for all of these different hues.
And she was very frustrated when I would say, "Very dark blue," and "Very, very dark blue. The previous fall, the world had discovered Genie. Now, Genie could discover the world.
And they just passed, and then they turned around and came back, and the boy, without a word, handed the fire engine to Genie. She never asked for it. She never said a word. She did this kind of thing, somehow, to people. Could I see things through her eyes? I don't believe so.
I don't believe I really could. Sometimes, I could understand and guess pretty well what she was going to do, but that was familiarity, and not an ability, I think, to empathize with, understand, the way she saw the world.
Can you get a glass of water? You can. It was a new step for Genie, her first trial run in a foster home. This is July 11th, Mrs. Butler's house. This is lunchtime. She just took the milk and the chocolate milk into the bedroom. Although there is no obvious explanation, this has been reported in other cases of children raised in isolation. Genie began living here after Butler said she had exposed Genie to German measles.
It began as a temporary quarantine. Butler wanted to make it permanent. Butler, shown here with Genie and James Kent, wanted to be Genie's official foster parent, and she wanted to see changes in the handling of Genie's case. Butler thought frequent visits by team members Kent and Susan Curtiss were exhausting Genie. It was a summer that included weeks of concern and anxiety and, you know, anger, and all kinds of things, because he and I were kicked out of Jean's house. Because she was crazy, and she didn't want the other attachments.
I mean, she wanted everything. She used to walk around saying, "I am going to be the next Annie Sullivan. This girl is going to make me famous. And we felt, even if she has the desire, why is she so willing to tell the rest of us? But she certainly found a way to—You know, she concocted this story.
The whole thing was untrue. She didn't have German measles. She had a rash. Butler wrote she feared Genie was being experimented with too much. But it raised again the issue of how Genie should be treated.
This is precisely what Chomsky reprinted as Chomsky argues with his proposition of a universal grammar UG. Universal grammar[ edit ] Chomsky asserts that environmental factors must be relatively unimportant for language emergence, as so many different factors surround children acquiring L1.
Instead, Chomsky claims language learners possess innate principles building a ' language acquisition device ' LAD in the brain. These principles denote restricted possibilities for variation within the language, and enable learners to construct a grammar out of 'raw input' collected from the environment. Input alone cannot explain language acquisition because it is degenerated by characteristic features such as stutters, and lacks corrections from which learners discover incorrect variations.
Singleton and Newport demonstrate the function of UG in their study of 'Simon'. Simon learned ASL as his L1 from parents who had learned it as an L2 after puberty and provided him with imperfect models. Results showed Simon learned normal and logical rules and was able to construct an organised linguistic system, despite being exposed to inconsistent input. Chomsky developed UG to explain L1 acquisition data, but maintains it also applies to L2 learners who achieve near-native fluency not attributable solely to input and interaction Chomsky Although it does not describe an optimal age for SLA, the theory implies that younger children can learn languages more easily than older learners, as adults must reactivate principles developed during L1 learning and forge an SLA path: children can learn several languages simultaneously as long as the principles are still active and they are exposed to sufficient language samples Pinker, The parents of Singleton and Newport's patient also had linguistic abilities in line with these age-related predictions; they learned ASL after puberty and never reached complete fluency.
Problems within UG theory for L2 acquisition[ edit ] There are, however, problems with the extrapolation of the UG theory to SLA: L2 learners go through several phases of types of utterance that are not similar to their L1 or the L2 they hear.
Other factors include the cognitive maturity of most L2 learners, that they have different motivation for learning the language, and already speak one language fluently.
Other studies also highlight these problems: Stanislas Dehaene has investigated how cerebral circuits used to handling one language adapt for the efficient storage of two or more. They found the most activated brain areas during the tasks were not those generally associated with language, but rather those related to mapping orthography to phonology.
They conclude that the left temporal lobe is the physical base of L1, but the L2 is 'stored' elsewhere, thus explaining cases of bilingual aphasia where one language remains intact. They maintain that only languages learned simultaneously from birth are represented, and cause activity, in the left hemisphere: any L2 learned later is stored separately possibly in the right hemisphere , and rarely activates the left temporal lobe.
This suggests that L2 may be qualitatively different from L1 due to its dissociation from the 'normal' language brain regions, thus the extrapolation of L1 studies and theories to SLA is placed in question.
A further disadvantage of UG is that supporting empirical data are taken from a limited sample of syntactic phenomena: a general theory of language acquisition should cover a larger range of phenomena. Despite these problems, several other theorists have based their own models of language learning on it. These ideas are supported by empirical evidence, which consequently supports Chomsky's ideas.
Due to this support and its descriptive and explanatory strength, many theorists regard UG as the best explanation of language, and particularly grammar, acquisition. UG and the critical period hypothesis[ edit ] A key question about the relationship of UG and SLA is: is the language acquisition device posited by Chomsky and his followers still accessible to learners of a second language?
The critical period hypothesis suggests that it becomes inaccessible at a certain age, and learners increasingly depended on explicit teaching. In other words, although all of language may be governed by UG, older learners might have great difficulty in gaining access to the target language's underlying rules from positive input alone.
He agrees this development may be innate, but claims there is no specific language acquisition module in the brain. Instead, he suggests external influences and social interaction trigger language acquisition: information collected from these sources constructs symbolic and functional schemata thought or behaviour patterns. According to Piaget, cognitive development and language acquisition are lifelong active processes that constantly update and re-organise schemata. He proposes children develop L1 as they build a sense of identity in reference to the environment, and describes phases of general cognitive development, with processes and patterns changing systematically with age.
Piaget assumes language acquisition is part of this complex cognitive development, and that these developmental phases are the basis for an optimal period for language acquisition in childhood. Interactionist approaches derived from Piaget's ideas supports his theory. Some studies e. Newport and Supalla  show that, rather than abrupt changes in SLA ability after puberty, language ability declines with age, coinciding with declines in other cognitive abilities, thus supporting Piaget.
Krashen[ edit ] Although Krashen also criticises this theory, he does not deny the importance of age for second-language acquisition.
The term " language acquisition " became commonly used after Stephen Krashen contrasted it with formal and non-constructive "learning. However, "second-language acquisition" or "SLA" has become established as the preferred term for this academic discipline. Though SLA is often viewed as part of applied linguistics , it is typically concerned with the language system and learning processes themselves, whereas applied linguistics may focus more on the experiences of the learner, particularly in the classroom.
Additionally, SLA has mostly examined naturalistic acquisition, where learners acquire a language with little formal training or teaching. Other directions of research[ edit ] Effect of illiteracy[ edit ] Virtually all research findings on SLA to date build on data from literate learners. Specifically, learners with lower alphabetic literacy levels are significantly less likely to notice corrective feedback on form or to perform elicited imitation tasks accurately.
She had not acquired language before puberty, had, hence, missed the theoretical CP for first language acquisition and, although she managed to acquire some vocabulary, she struggled to acquire English grammar and syntax. Chelsea also began to acquire language after puberty and also struggled with grammar and syntax Aitchison, These rare and complex cases, then, are regarded within the literature as insufficient concrete evidence for the CPH. If, however, the cases of Genie, Chelsea and Victor are compared to that of Isabelle Brown, as cited in Aitchison, 86, 87 , for example, the case in support of the CPH is strengthened.
Isabelle only began to acquire language at the age of 6 and a half and, allegedly, managed to acquire native-like English grammar. The development of NSL points to a link between the age at which a child is exposed to language and the proficiency attained, which indirectly supports the CPH Aitchison, 88, The development of pidgins and creoles further highlights the importance of socialisation in L1 acquisition.
My first language is Irish English. I began learning a second language Irish at school as a four-year old until the age of 16; a third French and fourth language German at school at age 11 until I began to learn and acquire a fifth language Russian at university at age 17 until The CPH would predict that the level of proficiency which I attained in each of these languages would have declined as I grew older.
My case, I argue, contradicts the CPH as my proficiency in my fifth language, which I began to acquire after puberty, is far greater than that of the others. I would personally hypothesize that I acquired Russian grammar and pronunciation because I learned Russian predominantly through Russian via Russian native speakers , and because I totally immersed myself into Russian life when I lived there for year when I was Most researchers agree on the former  , but much research has included subjects who have had at least some instruction in the L2.
Third, there is no consensus on what the scope of the cp is as far as the areas of language that are concerned. Most researchers agree that a cp is most likely to constrain the acquisition of pronunciation and grammar and, consequently, these are the areas primarily looked into in studies on the cph . Some researchers have also tried to define distinguishable cps for the different language areas of phonetics, morphology and syntax and even for lexis see  for an overview.
From research into the rate of acquisition e. In fact, it has been observed that adult learners proceed faster than child learners at the beginning stages of L2 acquisition.
Nevertheless, contemporary sla scholars generally seem to concur that ua and not rate of learning is the dependent variable of primary interest in cph research. Formulating testable hypotheses Once the relevant cph's scope has satisfactorily been identified, clear and testable predictions need to be drawn from it. At this stage, the lack of consensus on what the consequences or the actual observable outcome of a cp would have to look like becomes evident.
The range of possible ultimate attainment states thus helps researchers to explore the potential maximum outcome of L2 proficiency before and after the putative critical period. One strong prediction made by some cph exponents holds that post-cp learners cannot reach native-like L2 competences.
Identifying a single native-like post-cp L2 learner would then suffice to falsify all cph s making this prediction. Assessing this prediction is difficult, however, since it is not clear what exactly constitutes sufficient nativelikeness, as illustrated by the discussion on the actual nativelikeness of highly accomplished L2 speakers  , .
Indeed, there exists a real danger that, in a quest to vindicate the cph, scholars set the bar for L2 learners to match monolinguals increasingly higher — up to Swiftian extremes.
Furthermore, the usefulness of comparing the linguistic performance in mono- and bilinguals has been called into question  ,  , . Put simply, the linguistic repertoires of mono- and bilinguals differ by definition and differences in the behavioural outcome will necessarily be found, if only one digs deep enough.
A second strong prediction made by cph proponents is that the function linking age of acquisition and ultimate attainment will not be linear throughout the whole lifespan.
Since babies are in a poor environment in terms of language stimuli because parents oversimplify their language output and still develop language quite automatically to fluency, this LAD must work regardless of the language being acquired. The reason for code switching is the child's lack of vocabulary in a certain situation. She did this kind of thing, somehow, to people.
Her father had judged her retarded at birth and had chosen to isolate her.