If A Group Of Children Grew Up Isolated From Adults, Would They Create Their Own Language?

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How would children’s language develop if they grew up isolated from adults? Suppose a group of children were raised away from the rest of the world and would not have the opportunity to know human language, what would happen?

This question actually began to be asked from ancient times and the answer that the thinkers of the time gave was that children could speak ancient languages such as Hebrew, Greek, Egyptian and

To date, it would seem unlikely that such a thing would be similar to us, but this response was made with great seriousness by the scholars of the time. The first “witness” we have comes from Herodotus (the historian who told how the eclipse stopped a war) who described an experiment conducted at Psammetico I (Egyptian Pharaoh between 6

It seems that man had entrusted a shepherd with two newborns to grow up in isolation. Pharaoh’s goal was to be able to understand whether the children would speak Egyptian or the Friedian language, so as to identify which of the two peoples was more “older” than the other. Legend has it that when the children were taken to the presence of Pharaoh Psammetico I laid hands and shouted “becos,” which meant “bread” in the Friedian language. In fact, it is highly unlikely that Herodotus’ account was exactly so.

Other sources tell of more severe isolations such as that required by King James IV of Scotland who would in fact leave two babies to a mute nanny, in the island of Inchkeith and also of the Mogol emperor of India Akbar

Because of the controversial actions of these subjects, information about these events is clearly rather scarce and difficult to verify. More recent documentation of cases of children raised alone due to unfortunate events such as abandonment or abuse, have offered more credible data.

The case of Genie, the 13-year-old girl found after having spent her entire existence until then locked in a room without any human contact and therefore possibility of dialogue, is an example.

Although she was released immediately after the baby began to imitate the sound of the words in English and was able to understand it, even after many years Genie showed clear signs of difficulty in learning the language and its grammar.

According to the theory of the Hypothesis of the Critical Period cases such as those of Genie show that after a certain age it is excessively difficult if not impossible for a human to acquire linguistic ability.

In the late 1970s, researcher Derek Bickerton proposed a somewhat controversial experiment. It wanted to contact six families, provided that each one spoke a different language. His idea was to take six children to a deserted island for a year and see how they would communicate with each other. Although he had found the island and obtained approval from the University of Hawaii, the experiment never took place due to lack of funds.

Another noteworthy fact was in Managua, Nicaragua. At that time, again at the end of the 1970s, the deaf community of the country was not a consolidated reality and for this reason there were no special educational resources for deaf students. In general, due to the 1972 earthquake, access to education was a problem for all children.

The first school was opened in Managua with a special education program for deaf children who did not include any sign language, instead of trying to teach the written and oral language “by voice.” This would have caused students to have a general impoverishment of their language skills but fortunately it did not.

Unbeknownst to the teachers, in fact, the children created a sign language all of them. They could not use it in class but when the bell sounded, children could devote themselves to stimulating activities such as socializing and playing, like everyone else. When the adults found out, years later, they called experts to see what it was.

The discovery left everyone amazed. The language of the signs they had invented was really articulate and complex and the most amazing thing is that they had done it all on their own!

To answer the initial question: it is not possible to say for sure. External factors have a great impact on the linguistic development of children, on the other hand it is also likely that a large group of children will be able to create their own language and that over time this will become more complete.

By the way, do you know which languages are the most difficult in the world?

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