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Lenneberg formed the Critical Period Hypothesis theory which contends that language is innate but has to be attained before the age of puberty or else the ability to learn language ebbs as a result of the lateralization of the brain 1 At present the Critical Period Hypothesis theory is widely accepted by numerous linguists Evidence has been presented that there is a limited time when the brain is malleable in terms of language Studies such as linguistically isolated children aka feral children support Lennebergs theory of the critical period because they are unable to fully acquire language 2 Moreover there is a non-uniform success rate in adults who try to attain a second language yet children can obtain a new language a lot more quickly and sufficiently than adults 3 It is thought by many that a critical period for acquisition of a language does exist The most common contrasting viewpoint against the Critical Period Hypothesis is the theory presented by Noam Chomsky Chomsky hypothesized that people are born with a set of rules known as Universal Grammar thus people can acquire language at any point within their lifetime as long as they are placed in an adequate learning environment4 Although many linguists concur with Chomskys views about Universal Grammar the movie Nell can be interpreted in such a way that Chomskys theory is erroneous In the movie the character Nell learned a language within her critical period made up of the distorted English from her mother who had a speech defect as the result of a series of strokes and words remembered from a private language spoken with her twin5 However when she was being taught English in her late 20s Nell showed little progress in using the English language and continued to speak in her own language6 In the film the audience never witnesses Nell communicate in correct English sentences most probably because she doesnt learned English syntax Hence there is a critical
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