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> I witnessed a few people from Poland end up with almost no Polish accent, even though they came to the USA in middle age.

I presume you mean they spoke no English before they moved to the USA. I recently read Steven Pinker's book The Language Instinct, which left me with the impression that what you describe is impossible, and that adults are never able to learn a language to 'native' proficiency. This article seems to refute that.




The Language Instinct is a 'weak' book. There is a plenty of criticism for arguments against universal grammar (the idea behind the book).


The language instinct is bogus, refuted by multiple recent articles. Sorry you’ll have to undo learning a bunch of false info from it :(


I'm not sure it's that cut and dry, nor that any learning needs to be "undone". The study itself (referenced in this article) is co-authored by Pinker, and these ideas take time and research to develop.


There was never any evidence to support the critical period theory. It was poor statistics from the very beginning.


The authors of the study under discussion explicitly claim (in the abstract even) that "the results support the existence of a sharply-defined critical period for language acquisition." You should address that argument (or cite the other "recent articles" that refute it), rather than simply dismissing it as poor statistics.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3723803/

http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/March_2002_EBook_editions.p...

^ Basically the above study, sponsored by the NIH, found that when you correct for all relevant factors the critical period signal not only disappears but becomes anti-correlated: kids have a HARDER time in all aspects of language learning than adults, when the same level of interest and effort is applied.


So we've not only confirmed that children have an advantage, but we've identified the nature of the advantage: it's easier for them to muster both interest and effort, to the extent that this outweighs the disadvantages they have outside of those areas.


Yeah but there’s nothing physiological or neurological there, which is what the critical period hypothesis is predicting. It’s just the reality of childhood in an immersion environment.

> Yeah but there’s nothing physiological or neurological there

That's, IMO, an unwarranted (and, taken strictly, almost implausible) assumption. (Especially on the interest side.)


I personally saw a person in their 50's to learn English to fluency with no accent. It is possible.




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