The Surprising Complexity of Baby's Babble

Toddlers' speech patterns were thought to lack the grammatical architecture used by adults, but new research suggests that children just learning to talk have already begun obeying grammatical rules.

What's the Latest Development?


The prevailing wisdom about toddlers' speech patterns is that it lacks the grammatical architecture used by adults, but new research suggests that children just learning to talk have already begun employing grammatical rules. Scientists at Newcastle University spent three painstaking years recording and listening to the babble of fifty French-speaking children ranging from 23 to 74 months. What they found is that the toddlers consistently paused in places where the language called for a grammatical standard, such as a preposition or an article like "a", "an", or "the".

What's the Big Idea?

Dr. Cristina Dye, who led the study, is a lecturer in child language development and sees evidence in her research that human children are more amazing in their ability to acquire language--a fundamentally human capacity--than previously thought. "There are also implications for understanding language delay in children. When children don't learn to speak normally it can lead to serious issues later in life. For example, those who have it are more likely to suffer from mental illness or be unemployed later in life. If we can understand what is 'normal' as early as possible then we can intervene sooner to help those children."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at Science Daily

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