Language acquisition device

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This article is about the hypothetical part of the brain. For the computer program, see Language Acquisition Device (computer).

The Language Acquisition Device (LAD) is a hypothetical module of the human mind posited to account for children's innate predisposition for language acquisition.[1]

First proposed by Noam Chomsky in the 1960s, the LAD concept is an instinctive mental capacity which enables an infant to acquire and produce language. It is a component of the nativist theory of language. This theory asserts that humans are born with the instinct or "innate facility" for acquiring language. The main argument in favor of the LAD is the argument from the poverty of the stimulus, which argues that unless children have significant innate knowledge of grammar they would be unable to learn language as quickly as they do, given that they never have access to negative evidence and rarely received direct instruction in their first language.[2]



  • Briscoe, Ted (2000). "Grammatical Acquisition: Inductive Bias and Coevolution of Language and the Language Acquisition Device". Language. 76 (2): 245–296. doi:10.1353/lan.2000.0015. 
  • Chomsky, Noam (1965). Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. MIT Press. 
  • Kennison, S. M. (2013). Introduction to language development. Los Angeles: Sage. 
  • VanPatten, Bill; Benati, Allesandro G. (2010). Key Terms in Second Language Acquisition. Continuum.