Article: “What Happens if a Child Is Never Exposed to Language?”

“Children learn the language(s) that they hear and see around them at a young age, but what happens if a child just never has any linguistic input, spoken or signed? Although a scientific study around this question would undoubtedly be fascinating, it would also be extremely unethical, so much so that the cultural historian Roger Shattuck has called it The Forbidden Experiment.” https://slate.com/human-interest/2014/07/children-not-exposed-to-language-nicaraguan-sign-language-wild-children-and-the-forbidden-experiment.html

There are a number of times in the past where people wanted to find out if there was a “natural language” and a lot of very damaging experiments were done with children. The children were put in situations where they grew up not hearing any language. The “end result” of this experiment is a new understanding of human speech. But was the process (the brutal experiment) worth the knowledge?


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