The study of language acquisition has become a center of scientific inquiry into the nature of the human mind. The result is a windfall of new information about language, about learning, and about children themselves.
In Language Acquisition Jill and Peter de Villiers provide a lively introduction to this fast-growing field. Their book deals centrally with the way the child acquires the sounds, meanings, and syntax of his language, and the way he learns to use his language to communicate with others. In discussing these issues, the de Villiers provide a clear and insightful treatment of the classic questions about language acquisition: Does the child show a genetic predisposition for speech, or grammar, or semantics which makes him uniquely able to learn human language? What kinds of learning are involved in acquiring language and what kinds of experience with a language are necessary to support such learning? Is there a critical period during the child’s development which is optimal for language acquisition? And what kind of psychological disabilities underlie the failure to acquire language?