Children create new language

Is language acquistion an innate function of the brain? This is a favourite question among psychologists and boils down to: do humans have specific ‘circuitry’ built into their brains to learn language? Or alternatively is it something that as our brains are so big, we can do in the same way as the other skills that we pick up? Many psychologists are now happy to agree that there are some parts of the brain that are specialised for language acquisition, the question is over the degree and the mechanism.

Imagine how much we could learn about language acquisition if we could watch a language developing in real time instead of picking apart its history centuries or millenia after the event. Imagine no longer. Deaf Nicaraguan children have, over the last 15 years, developed a sign language from scratch. Not only does it follow basic rules that are common to all language but as the language was passed down to the next generation it clearly evolved in complexity. This strongly supports the innatist viewpoint.

> Go to BBC News

New National Service Framework for children

John Reid’s speech contains all the usual buzzwords: integrated approach, early assessment, child centred, needs led. But my favourite is: no extra money. Oh no, sorry, that isn’t the exact turn of phrase that he used. I’ve always thought that hard currency is the only way to tell if a politician thinks a particular issue is important. It’s the same old question every time: what’s the bottom line?

This old cynic has one thing to say to you: kids can’t vote. Here are the jargon-filled word-bites:

> From The Guardian, and again

Newsflash: Children are humans too!

Adults are always a bit sniffy about the latest trends in children’s fashions. One of the newest is apparently the popularity of tatoos – not real ones but spray on. This article ends with a child psychologist claiming that spray on tatoos might encourage real tatoos in the future. Whereas of course forbidding the child to have any sort of tatoo will automatically make it less likley to have a tatoo, right? Errr. No.

The article continues: “This is part of a general trend where younger and younger children are emulating teenagers and adults in clothes and make-up.” This article is part of a general trend of treating children as though they were from another species rather than members of the human race. Adults spend much of their waking lives copying other, higher status, humans so what is so unusual about children doing the same?

> From The Telegraph (free registration required)