Question 1: Although Genie suffered very severe abuse, she survived. She was isolated from love, contact and language. She was malnourished. She was never taught any social skills. In spite of all of this, Genie survived and when she was released, she developed a great curiosity for learning.

Question 2: Although Genie never learned "normal" language, she was able to learn some language. She also demonstrated a curiosity for learning and discovering new things. She was able to form some attachments with the people who worked with her.

Question 3: Genie had passed the critical period for learning language, which according to Lenneberg ends at puberty. Although Genie did develop some language ability, she never learned how to use language in a normal way. Therefore, Genie does support Lenneberg's critical period theory. Despite her isolation, Genie learned some language, a human characteristic. This supports Chomsky's idea that language is an innate characteristic of human beings. However, she never displayed grammatical principles in her language use. This refutes Chomsky's theory that human language is innately grammatical. However, since she was never exposed to language as a child, Genie never learned normal language. This supports Skinner's theory. So, the case of Genie offers some, but not complete, support for all three theories.

Question 4: The strongest support for Lenneberg's critical period theory is that although Genie did learn some additional language after she was found, she never was able to use language in a normal, human way. This is likely the result of having been deprived of language during the critical period.

Question 5: No, Genie was not only deprived of language, she was also deprived of social contact and love. These are important factors in a child's development. Human language is a means of communication and rules of social contact are important in normal language development. Genie never learned these rules as she was developing. By the time she was found, it was too late.

Posted to the web on May 2, 2005