God Taught Adam and Spoke to Moses: Language Origin, Functions and Early Multilingual Development

Aladdin Assaiqeli

Abstract


This work addresses a number of crucial themes in the history of linguistic enquiry — themes that are still relevant today. Aiming to encourage multiple language learning, and give potential stakeholders momentum to provide supportive multilingual environments for children, the paper first addresses the question of the origins of language or the naturalism-conventionalism debate, highlighting children’s innate potentiality for multilingual acquisition. Second, the paper highlights the pragmalinguistic functions of language, shedding light on the language-thought debate, and illustrating the centrality of language to our life, relations and the exercise of power. The paper, next, deals with the nature-nurture debate or the fantastic and prodigious potentiality of children to develop multicompetence in multiple languages with enviable unselfconscious ease. Drawing on records of longitudinal data comprising the linguistic development of three children raised as simultaneous bilinguals, the paper finally tackles the central theme of the study, providing evidence — both theoretical and empirical — that childhood multilingualism is not only legitimate and highly possible without any detriment of any kind, but also a great asset and a source of power; and that children who have the opportunity to expand their multilingual meaning potential from infancy or early childhood, and to maintain them throughout their lives are fortunate indeed; and therefore concludes that families and policymakers that can offer this critical opportunity to their offspring and citizens are highly encouraged to do so.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v11i5.15206

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