On “Sexuality” thread, critical period hypothesis in learning a language as an L2 came up (in this case, compared to some possible critical point in sexual orientation), and since it’s something it’s still in dispute, and for me, as a student of other languages, a fascinating topic as well, I thought it deserves its own thread.
This hypothesis proposes that the first few years of lives are crucial to learn a language as first, if presented with proper stimuli. Humans are not supposed to be able to acquire complete native skills of another language (especially complex grammar or same accent) after that critical point (around 11-15 years old).
This hypothesis is mostly based on experiences with deaf and feral children, such as Victor of Aveyron’s (in who Tarzan’s character was inspired) or Genie’s (a girl whose father thought was intelectually disable and decided to keep her alone locked in a room since she was 2 years old, until she reached age 13).
I also studied this hypothesis (via Yule, Chomksy, Piaget, Lenneberg, etc.), as an accepted theory, when it’s not, and my opinion is the same as Cervantes Institute's (Spain’s official institution to promote my language around the world): The fact that adults who initiate L2 learning are unlikely to reach a native level (meaning some real complex grammar aspects or exact imitation of the accent) are not only based on phisiological aspects, but motivation, actual need, time spent, etc. (article in Spanish: https://cvc.cervantes.es/ensenanza/biblioteca_ele/diccio_ele/diccionario...)
This is mainly why I changed my mind:
- Feral kids’ studies are ambiguos and inconclusive (we can’t be sure whether Victor of Aveyron or Genie didn’t suffer from severe mental illness caused by human deprivation itself).
- Some studies show, under certain conditions, native-like accent has been acquired, if affected by reasons such as identity or motivation, rather than a biological critical period (check Italian Luca Lampariello’s amazing second language acquisition skills out, for instance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNScWReYGoo), so the second language could be mastered as it was one's first.
Any thoughts? Is it possible to extrapolate some of these aspects to religious learning or sexual orientation as it was suggested?
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