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Enculturation Processes in Primary Language Acquisition

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This book combines research and perspectives from anthropology, sociology, applied linguistics, developmental psychology and neurobiology to argue for a theory of language acquisition via enculturation.

The first part of the book examines the practices by which we are enculturated. Indeed, members of a society are socialized into their culture, and more specifically to use language through language via processes that include eavesdropping, observation, participation, imitation, and language socialization. However, ethnographic accounts also overwhelmingly show that children become enculturated in large part on their own initiative. The second part of the book argues for a motivation to attune to, seek out, and become like others—or an 'interactional instinct', which facilitates enculturation and the biology that subserves it. The closing chapters explore more of our biological readiness and the neurological structures and systems that may have evolved to respond to the input provided by society to facilitate the learning of cultural practices and traditions by its youth. The picture that emerges indicates that biology is nature and culture is nurture, but there is no nurture without nature, and it is nurture that provides for the phylogenetic development of our biological nature. The ontogenesis of language behavior, i.e. its acquisition, cannot occur without its evolved biology or without its evolved cultural practices for socialization.

Published: Jul 1, 2013

Section Chapter Authors
Acknowledgements Anna Dina L. Joaquin
Foreword John Schumann
Introduction and overview Anna Dina L. Joaquin
Cultural practices for internalization Anna Dina L. Joaquin
The interactional instinct for cultural learning Anna Dina L. Joaquin
Affiliation as motivation for interaction: A neurobiology for the interactional instinct Anna Dina L. Joaquin
The caregiver’s instinct Anna Dina L. Joaquin
Learning via eavesdropping Anna Dina L. Joaquin
Mirror neurons for the interactional instinct and culture learning Anna Dina L. Joaquin
Socializing the prefrontal cortex Anna Dina L. Joaquin
Appraisal, behavior and language pragmatics Anna Dina L. Joaquin
Challenges to the theory and conclusion Anna Dina L. Joaquin
Appendix A
Transcription conventions Anna Dina L. Joaquin
References Anna Dina L. Joaquin
Index Anna Dina L. Joaquin

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'This book has great potential for influence. It is a very clever demonstration of the relatedness between behaviorial views of language and cultural acquisition and neurobiology.'
Ryan Nelson, University of Louisiana, Lafayette

'Eessential reading for anyone who wants to understand socio-neurobiology of language acquisition. It achieves this in a manner that will be informative for developmental psychologists, socio-cultural theorists, and neurobiologists of language.'
From the Foreword by John H. Schumann, University of California, Los Angeles