Children learn their native language, says this UPenn linguist, by unlearning every other language.
Children do say the darnedest things. But the next time you chuckle at a toddler insisting “I weared my jacket,” consider the possibility that her grammar is perfect, just in another language.
In his new book, “The Infinite Gift: How Children Learn and Unlearn the Languages of the World” Charles Yang argues that children learn their native language through a process of trial and error, searching for the correct grammar by trying out other grammatical systems and discarding the ones that don’t fit. Double negatives, for example, while not commonly used in English, are de rigueur in Greek and Spanish, not to mention Chaucerian Middle English.