One way researchers can study how human beings learn to speak a language is by studying people who did NOT learn to speak a language. There have been a few documented cases of children growing up without learning to speak. What happened? What was missing in their environment or in their brain?
Another famous (but fictional) case is that of Mowgli, the boy brought up by wolves, who is the main character in a book by 19th-century British Nobel Prize winning author Rudyard Kipling (who also wrote “How the Alphabet was Made” and “How the First Letter was Written“) – The Jungle Book (click the link to read the Wikipedia entry). Mowgli grows up speaking wolf language but learns human language later on. Could this be possible, knowing what we know now about human language-learning?
Another famous but fictional case is that of Tarzan, a young boy whose parents die in the African jungle and who is brought up by apes. 89 Tarzan movies have been made as well as TV dramas, but the books are much better than any of them. Tarzan grows up speaking ape-language but learns human language later on. Could this be possible, knowing what we know now about human language-learning?
Yet another fictional example of a feral child is Peter Pan.
(Personal note: I saw the Jungle Book movie when I was a child, and I still remember all the songs. My mother read me the Jungle Book when I was very young. She read it to me in her native language – French. Later, I read the stories in English, and later still, I read them again in French, so I have a strong personal connection with these stories. They are also very famous and well known in Britain and other English-speaking countries. I also read the Tarzan stories when I was a teenager. I think I collected the entire set.)
Children who have grown up with very little human contact are called feral children (click the link to read the Wikipedia entry on this).
do men and women speak differently all around the world?
Freewriting: about your own presentation and your classmates’, and today’s mini-lectures, plus anything else you want to say.
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