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The Language Acquisition Device (LAD) is a theorized concept of the organic brain to (in part or whole) function as a congenital device for learning and processing symbolic language (ie. language acquisition). First proposed by Noam Chomsky, the LAD concept is a component of the nativist theory of language which dominates contemporary cognitive linguistics, which asserts that humans are born with the instinct or "innate facility" for acquiring language.
Chomsky based its existence partly on the vast complexity of language he was familiar with as a linguist, attempting the reconcile the question of "infinite use of finite means" proposed by Wilhelm von Humboldt. At the time it was conceived (1960–1965), the LAD concept was in strict contrast to B.F. Skinner's behavioral psychology which emphasized principles of learning theory such as classical and operant conditioning and imitation over biological predisposition. The interactionist theory of Jerome Bruner and Jean Piaget later emphasized the importance of the interaction between biological and social (nature and nurture) aspects of language acquisition, the dominant theory among psychologists today.
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