Genie的发现恰逢学术界对语言习得的争论。来自麻省理工学院的语言学家诺姆乔姆斯基声称人类天生具有发展语言的天生能力。他认为语言不是因为我们学习它而获得的,而是因为它是我们基因遗传的一部分。然后,神经心理学家Eric Lenneberg对乔姆斯基的想法添加了一个警告。 Lenneberg同意人类天生具有开发语言的能力,但他建议,如果一种语言不是青春期获得的,那么它可能永远不会。 Lenneberg的提议被称为“关键时期假设”。然而,在Genie出现之前,没有能力测试该理论。在她被发现后的前七个月内,Genie学到了许多新词。她甚至开始说话,但只用一句话。到1971年7月,Genie可以将两个单词组合在一起,到11月她可以将三个单词放在一起。尽管有进步的迹象,但Genie从未学会提问,她似乎并不理解语法规则。


Genie’s discovery coincides with academic debates about language acquisition. Norm Chomsky, a linguist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims that human beings are born with the natural ability to develop language. He believes that language is not acquired because we learn it, but because it is part of our genetic inheritance. Then, neuropsychologist Eric Lenneberg added a warning to Chomsky’s idea. Lenneberg agrees that human beings are born with the ability to develop language, but he suggests that if a language is not acquired during adolescence, then it may never be. Lenneberg’s proposal is called the “critical period assumption.” However, before Genie appeared, there was no ability to test the theory. In the first seven months after she was discovered, Genie learned a lot of new words. She even started talking, but only used one sentence. By July 1971, Genie could combine two words together, and by November she could put three words together. Despite the signs of progress, Genie never learned to ask questions, and she didn’t seem to understand the rules of grammar.


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