The development of language comes naturally for most people; as they grow from an infant to a child. Noam Chomsky believes that languages are genetically pre-programmed by a language acquisition device in the brain. The deep structure of language and words is not learned. Yet the surface structures, such as phonetic sounds are learned. A few children do not master the basic foundation of language like in Genie’s case. Genie (and her mom) was victims of abuse and neglect inflicted upon them by Genie’s father. In November, 1970, Genie’s [a.k.a. “The Wild Child”] horrible plight was documented and this is my personal assessment of it…
I would think that Genie can one day master English (or another language) because of one specific reason: Genie’s brain, as slow and below average for a 13 year old as it was, did show some progression. Genie did have a 20-word vocabulary. She could correctly identify colors, she knew her mom and could say things like, “walk, door and No more.” However, this was not the case.
After over 6 years of being observed, poked and researched by scientist, Genie never did master the English language. Also, Genie had a most bizarre and unfortunate life starting at the very moment she was born. In the beginning she was constrained and not given any attention. When she was discovered by the world, she was bombarded with attention from many researchers. From the multitude of research done on her, one bit of information that held true to Lenneberg’s theory is the inability to produce speech after puberty even when exposed to it. However, in the end the researchers became insensitive and overlooked Genie’s own well-being for scientific research.
Courtney from Study Moose
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