What is the 'language instinct'?

In the early 1960s the linguist and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky developed a theory which became known as universal grammar. The posited that we are born with the innate capacity to master a language.

In all but the rarest cases (involving sensory deprivation) this enables us communicate fluently in a specific language, regardless of the particular characteristics of that language.
Chomsky taught that language is much like walking. Although humans learn by example, he proposed that we are all born with a fundamental understanding of the underlying mechanisms of language. Chomsky’s …universal grammar, is the reason why humans can recognize grammatically correct yet nonsensical phrases, such as “colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Source
The specifics of this ‘universal grammar’ have been endlessly debated, disputed and challenged — with Chomsky himself recently opposing aspects of his own theory. What still remains clear, however, is the central idea that language acquisition what Steven Pinker calls a ‘language instinct’.


In other words children are born with the capacity to internalize grammatical structures and syntax of whichever language(s) they grow up speaking.

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Language Level: Upper intermediate/Advanced CERf C1
Which countries do not have an official language? * What is Globish?

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