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Noam Chomsky

Language Development

Background Information

"Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation."
-Noam Chomsky

  • Noam Chomsky was born on December 07, 1928 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • He went to the University of Pennsylvania for his Undergraduate and Graduate years.
  • Published many papers/books. Two of his most famous being Syntactic Structures and The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory


  • Noam Chomsky is one of the most influential linguists for the second half of the 20th Century. He suggests that language is innate, meaning that we are all born with a set of rules about language, which he calls Universal Grammar.
  • Chomsky states that children are exposed to very little correctly formed language. When people speak, they constantly interrupt themselves, change their minds, make slips of the tongue and so on. Yet children still manage to learn and obtain their language all the same.
  • Children do not simply copy the language that they hear around them. They interpret rules from it which then aids them into producing sentences that they have never even heard before.
  • Behaviourists (Behaviourist Theory: a form of non-nativism) believe that children learn a repertoire of phrases and sayings which lead them to their new sentences, but Noam Chomsky believes they learn a grammar that generates and infinity of new sentences.