 Almost every baby book and text
on language development has a
discussion on the milestones of
speech and language
 And well they should, for these
milestones are a road map to the
awesome processes of maturation
and learning that occur in those
early formative years of life.
 These milestones, furthermore,
provide information about the
normalcy of a child's
development--an issue every
parent and educator is concerned
 with. And perhaps most
importantly, they expose
windows of opportunity that
offer chances for parents and
educators to optimize the
development of language and
cognition for each child.
 Although the following
discussion is about these
milestones, I have included in
the Notes below some
additional interesting Web sites
which discuss these milestones.
Einstein was no elephant
 If brain size alone were the
hallmark of intelligence,
elephants would be the
Einsteins of the world. The
notable Russian neuroscientest,
Luria, hypothesized that it is
not so much the size but the
way the brain of the human is
organized that gives us
(humans) the language edge.
 Luria suggested that at birth,
all the modalities of the baby's
brain are functioning, as they
are for most baby mammals.
But these modalities are
functioning as individual
unconnected units. We have
 stressed the need for all these
modalities to be stimulated, in
order to maximize the
development of the neural
infra-structure for auditory,
visual and haptic processing.
So you are “Mr. Organization.”
What are you doing for society?
The mammal brain re-organizes it's function at
three months into paired modalities
 According to Luria, at three
months after birth, in the
human brain there is a reorganization of function. Now
the modalities establish
communication between
themselves, and begin to work in
 We see here a change in the
behavior of the child. Eyehand motor coordination is a
notable sequel of this advanced
neuro-wiring. That is not to
say that this advantage is
lacking in most other mammals.
Good eye-hoof (horses & deer),
 eye-paw (dogs & cats) eye-hand
(monkeys & apes) and eye-trunk
(elephants and porters)
coordination is essential for
 We have already discussed how
initially, the proximal modalities
almost exclusively will be used
by the child to to explore
his/her environment.
 The cross modality associations
between this haptic input and
the simultaneous input of the
distil modalities is critical if
hearing and vision are to become
optimally functional.
The human brain re-organizes itself again at 12
months into a single unit
 Around one year for humans only
(and earlier maybe for some
chimps and gorillas), the human
brain achieves yet a higher level of
re-organization, and is now capable
as functioning as a single unit.
 It is at this point, Luria
hypothesized, that symbolic
behavior becomes possible. It is
about this time also that children
begin to use symbols to talk, albeit
in one word sentences. The
language bridge has begun to take
 In discussing the milestones of
speech, books often relate these
 behaviors to those of general
motor development. This is not
to suggest, necessarily, that
speech development is dependent
upon motor development. Rather
they are intended to serve as
useful measures to obtain
 For example, both speech and
language have a maturational
timetable for development. If
one or the other alone lags,
different etiologies are
suggested. If both are slow in
developing, yet a third range of
possibilities becomes suspect.
0 to 1 minute--well, for crying out loud
 We will look, then, at both
speech and at some of the
major motor developments in
those early years.
 The first aural communication a
human typically makes in life is
the fabled Birth Cry. Crying
seems to be a simple act, but in
reality it is a very complex one,
requiring a high degree of body,
and hence, neurological
 All of the muscles of respiration
must be synchronized together,
and also with those muscles
controlling the larynx and the
oral cavity.
 Hence, while the birth cry
might be interpreted by the
casual on-looker (typically Dad)
as meaning, “That was no fun!”
But to a doctor or a
researcher, it has a more
profound message.
 It speaks to the neurological
health or integrity of the baby.
For example the syndrome “Cri
du Chat,” can be often
diagnosed at birth on the basis
of the baby’s crying pattern.
 Here, in the notes, is a support
group for such children.
1 minute to 2 months--How do you spell Major
Nuisance? U-n-d-i-f-f-e-r-e-n-t-i-a-t-e-d c-r-y-i-n-g.
 The crying that follows during
those days (nights) right after
birth has been called by some a
nuisance, and by others, undifferentiated crying. The latter
is basically because the cry lacks
variety. That is not surprising
considering there is a paucity of
neural connections, and taking into
account the fact that the infant’s
oral tract is too small and the
tongue is too large for effective
 In the Notes to the right, are
some auditory samples of
undifferentiated crying.”
 How do you spell
inconvenience: b-a-b-y ?
Often the issue for new
parents is how to respond to
the baby’s crying, especially
in the wee hours of the
 There are those who say
that we must teach the baby
early to mold to the adults
timetable if we don’t wish to
be greatly inconvenienced by
the baby’s crying in the
middle of the night.
How do you spell opportunity: i-n-c-o-n-v-e-n-i-e-n-c-e ?
 This means gritting our teeth
and ignoring the ever undulating
cacophony until it subsides.
The reality, of course, is that
if we don’t want to be
inconvenienced, we shouldn’t
have a baby.
 Once we undertake that
commitment, inconvenience is
the name of the game and the
more we are inconvenienced and
meet the challenge, the greater
that baby’s chances for
fulfillment will be.
 Let’s examine what we should do
when the baby cries at 12 a.m.,
and again at 3 a.m.
 Vygotsky called the baby’s cry a
social act of communication.
Here in lies a concept of some
 If we respond quickly to the
baby’s crying, we are teaching
the baby that the vocal
mechanism is an excellent tool
for communication.
 This engenders an underlying
positive attitude about oral
communication. In addition it
provides additional opportunities
for the parents to stimulate the
child with touch, voice and
visual patterns ( e.g. the face).
Cast your crumbs upon the water and what do
you get—soggy crumbs!
 Stimulation, as we have
discussed, is a major player in
brain cell growth and the
development of the neural
infra-structure. For the
infant, who is in the growth
“fast-lane”, the parents can be
contributors to that growth
each minute they spend with the
child, day or night!
 What happens if we don’t
answer the call? First of all,
we need to recognize that a
baby’s metabolism is not the
same as ours. So that the
baby’s body rhythm is different
 than that of an adult.
Hence, they need to have
their schedule of feeding
prevail and not the adults’.
When the baby cries and are
ignored, their needs go
unmet. (These are the
crumbs, I was referring to.)
 The oral mechanism to them
appears to have little value as
a means of communication.
 In addition, what neural subsystems are being stimulated
here, so that they will be the
ones to develop more fully?
2 months to 3 months--How do you spell babycommunication: d-i-f-f-e-r-e-n-t-i-a-t-e-d c-r-y-i-n-g.
 When the baby cries, the neurons
being exercised and stimulated to
grow are the ones in the circuits
that generate the feelings of
anxiety, anger, frustration, and
 These systems will develop more
readily and, because they are well
developed, are more available to
become the child’s reaction of
choice to the problems they
encounter throughout life. (These
are the soggy crumbs that can
come back to haunt us.)
 Around the second and third
months, the parents will have
 happily noticed that the baby’s
crying has taken on some
nuances in the form of an
increased number of consonant
and vowel type sounds, and voice
pitch changes and rhythm. This
is called, differentiated crying.
 The sounds that the baby is
making are reflexive and do not
represent any particular
language—only sounds that a
human can make. This variety
leads some mothers, however, to
feel that they can interpret
their baby’s cries.
3 to 6 months—out of the mouths of babes comes
 Research suggests to the
contrary, noting that when the
crying is taken out of context,
the mothers are unable to
decode it’s meaning. But then
again, communication in context
is what pragmatics is all about.
 So that maybe there still may
be something to be said for the
communication effectiveness of
differentiated crying. This may
be an interesting area for
further research.
 Nonetheless, everyone does
agree that the level of agitation
of the baby’s message can be
 interpreted by the pattern of
the crying.
 Of course, all the points we
have raised for responding
promptly to the baby’s
undifferentiated crying still hold
for this stage of communication
too. Now about BABBLING...
 When professors do it, it is
called “time for retirement,” but
when the 3 month old baby
babbles, it is a sign of human
genetic inheritance, and a
forerunner of oral
Babbling is a genetic inheritance for the human
species only--no primates allowed.
 Babbling occurs after that time
when, as Luria suggests, the
brain has gone through its reorganization. Modalities now
work in consort, two at a time.
 Hence, the noises that the baby
makes are now correlated with
the vocal movements that are
producing them, and the baby
revels in this awareness.
 This particular aural circuit,
however, is unique only to
humans. Other primates do not
engage in this activity. Nor do
other primates develop speech.
 All during this period, the
production of sounds increases
in frequency and variety in
terms of consonants (from back
to front) and vowels (from front
to back).
 The sounds, however, are still
relatively reflexive or by chance
and do not reflect any language
background. The initial babbling
is personal and occurs usually
when the child is alone, usually
before or after a nap. There
is lot of cooing and chuckles.
So what is the child doing motorically at 3 to 6
months during the period of Babbling?
 This quickly gives way to a
modified consonant-vowel kind of
cooing interspersed with nasal
and nasal and labial fricatives.
 Later it begins to carry some
social significance and is used as
a tool for gaining attention—a
very positive sign for the
development of aural
communication. There will be
identifiable combinations as well
as one syllable utterances.
 At the start of the babbling
period, most notable motor
behavior is the ability of the
baby to hold his/her head up
 from a prone position (lying on his
stomach). My feeling is that if you
have been letting the baby roll and
play a lot on the floor that he/she
will gain this ability a little earlier.
 It’s a desirable skill so that the
baby can focus on more objects.
 By half way through the babbling
period, the baby should be able to
sit with support; and by the end
of the period, sit without support.
6 to 8 months—Babies are not just LALLING around,
but are also using the JARGON of their language.
 Actually, I like to talk about
lalling first, and then jargon to
clarify the difference between
the two.
 Lalling is a term favored in oldtime language texts but not used
so much now. I like the term,
however, partly because I am an
old-time professor, and partly
because it underscores a
particular oral growth feature—
articulation control.
 During the babbling period, the
sound combinations that the
baby made were reflexive or
random. Now, the baby can
 make a sound voluntarily, at his
desecration. It’s a sure sign
that vocal motor patterns are
beginning to be developed and
stored in the “Mixer.”
 Baby can say, “ba” when he
wants to or “da” or “bada” and
do it again, “bada bada bada
bada bada bada bada,” and
again and again.
 The range of consonants
produced voluntarily, in terms of
type and frequency, will at first
be limited. Quickly new vowels
and consonants will appear, and
will increase in frequency.
Consonants appear from front to back and vowels
from back to front--and all this in just on semester!
 Typically, the front consonants
will be used first. The range of
vowels will also be restricted,
with the back vowels appearing
 This could easily account, at
least in part, for the fact that
the names of close family
members in many languages are
words that start with front
consonants and back vowel, as in
"mama" and "papa" or even
 Perhaps the most striking thing
of all is the fact that the
sounds the baby is making are
 now recognizable as being the
sounds of the baby's language
 In just 6 short months, this
speck of humanity, who has
spent much of his/her time
peeing and pooing, crying and
cooing, has found time to
secretly extract from the
surrounding stream of vocal
sounds, many of the allophones
of the language!
 That’s more than I accomplished
in a year of Russian in college,
with the exception of the pooing
and peeing.
Someone is talking to the fairies.
 Why should babies even notice
speech sounds at all? Chomsky
suggests this focus is a function
of the Language Acquisition
Device (LAD) that humans alone
possess. Certainly the human
brain has a neurological
readiness to process these kinds
of sounds.
 What does this mean to me. It
means that from day one, I will
be talking to my baby a lot,
even, if people think I've gone
"nuts." Babies may appear to
not be listening, but they are!
 Jargon adds another surprising
element to the baby's vocal
ability. Many parents have
heard their babies, when they
are alone after a nap, talking to
the "fairies." From the other
room it sounds as if the baby is
having a conversation with
 What the baby is doing is
lalling, with the added quality of
Prosody. Now if this were a
lower division course, we would
have called it the Melody of the
language, but that’s progress.
Look Dear, they're not playing our song!
 That is what prosody is, a melody
and all languages have their own
particular song.
 I'm reminded of the one time I
left the USA, to visit Japan. I
stood on the Ginza in a state of
intense culture shock, as people
dressed in strange clothes drove
on the wrong side of the street,
ate pink and white oddly shaped
foods and read signs from up to
down instead of left to right.
 To regain my composure, I did
what any true American would
do…I went to see a John Wayne
movie (dubbed, I later learned, in
Japanese). Not understanding the
 currency, I believe I paid $30
for the movie, but that is
another story. The real surprise
came when John Wayne, in boots
and chattels, came out and
hissed in chopped syllables, "Oh
hai yo go zaee masu." I was
totally destroyed.
 No more, I am sure, than a
citizen from Japan would be at
hearing Toshiro Mifune (my
favorite Japanese actor) speak
(dubbed) in a drawling American
 We have learned to expect a
specific melody or prosody from
a speaker of a specific language.
Prosody is not just a tune--it is a percussion
 This feature of prosody is one
of the hardest things to acquire
in a new language. Yet the
baby is demonstrating a
knowledge of it as early as six
 Prosody is made up of a number
of elements that include
rhythm, inflection, stress and
 The rhythm of a language
involves the combinations of
vowels and consonants and the
treatment of the vowels. It
creates a cadence that we come
to expect of a language. It is
what poems are made of, and
 poems are a good way for foreign
students to practice the rhythm of
the new language.
 This rhythm is very important for
effective listening as far as
speech is concerned, because is
helps to break the stream of
sounds into their proper units.
 When we impose the wrong rhythm
on a language, we are segmenting
the stream of speech incorrectly
and it becomes much more difficult
to decode. Notice, that when
foreign speakers speak English
using their native rhythm, English
becomes very difficult to
Look Dear, they're playing someone else's song!
 While I was working at the
Airport in Hawaii years ago, I
decided to learn Japanese, so
that I could welcome visitors
off the plane from Japan in
their native language.
 After struggling for one
semester at the University in
Japanese 100, I finally opened
the door to a plane arriving
from Japan, and drawled "Ohoou Haii-yoou go-ou zaiiii
 The Japanese passenger, first
off the plane, politely
apologized to me, in halting
English, saying that he didn't
really understand English. He
 didn't even recognize my drawling
Japanese as being Japanese! It was
back to the “drawling” board for me.
 The child is actually working on this
difficult problem of prosody (rhythm)
from the day he/she is born.
Studies have shown that when a
language is being spoken around an
infant, that infant will be moving in
unison with the rhythm of the
language--kind of like dancing.
 From personal experience, I know
that once I have danced to music, it
becomes more meaningful. Of
course, my wife say's that once I
have danced to music, it becomes
agonizing, but she only said that in an
emotional state after her foot
May I have this dance? May you have this dance!
 Not only is the baby busy
teasing out the phonemes of the
language but also the elusive
 What this all means, again, is
that there is a good reason to
talk to the infant a lot. Not only
is he/she busy teasing out the
phonemes of the language but
also the elusive rhythm.
 Understanding the rhythm will
set the stage for improved
recognition of syllables and
words later on down the line.
 Inflection is another element of
Prosody. When people speak,
their voices typically raise and
 lower in pitch. For example, if one
reads the two underlined headings
above (May I…, and may you have
this dance…), the first will
probably end in a rising pitch,
while the second will probably fall.
 A monotone voice is unnatural and
reminds us of computer generated
speech, or of speech made via an
artificial larynx. This is typical
also in Parkinson's disease where
control of the vocal folds is
 Learning Prosody can be stressful.
Stress is a third component of
Prosody includes Junk-sure to be missed by a non
native speaker.
 Besides changes in pitch
(inflection), we tend to hit
certain syllables and words in
sentence with more intensity
than others.
 For example in the three syllable
word, "banana," which syllable is
stressed? It has to be the
second (ba NA na) or the word
is almost unrecognizable.
 Juncture is the fourth element
of Prosody. This refers to a
short, almost imperceptible
pause between words in a
sentence. If you think of a
 "white house" and then say the
words, you will put a slight
pause between the words. But
if you remember that the
President lives in the "White
House," and say those words,
you may note that that pause is
 These minute pauses would
probably be missed by non
native speaker of English, yet
for the adult, as you can see
from the examples above, they
can actually change the meaning
of a sentence.
We are not talking Supra-calafragilistic-espialadocious
 What we are talking about here
are supra-segmental-phonemes.
This is what prosody ultimately
develops into; and the ability to
understand supra-segmentalphonemes is absolutely necessary
if a person is to be an effective
native speaker of a language.
 We all remember that the
phoneme is the smallest unit of a
language that can change
meaning. "My wife bit me,"
versus "My wife beat me,"
illustrates this point. There is a
significant change in meaning
brought by changing the phoneme
 "i" to "ea." But prosody,
superimposed over a string of
words in the sentence can also
change the meaning of the
sentence in subtle but important
ways. We saw above how changing
the inflection on the end of a
sentence changes it from a
question to an exclamation of
May I have this dance?
May you have this dance!
Asking a person to dance can create all kinds of Stress
 Changing the stress pattern brings different contexts into the meaning
of a sentence. For example:
“MAY you have this dance!" suggests to me that the process of
asking permission is a major prerequisite here.
"May YOU have this dance!" suggests to me that the person was
expecting (hoping) any one else than me to ask.
"May you HAVE this dance!" just sounds a little strange
(unnatural) to me since there is nothing else I could do with a dance
(other than what my wife says to do, and I can’t repeat that).
"May you have THIS dance!" suggests to me that almost any
other time would have been better to ask.
"May you have this DANCE!" suggests to me perhaps that I misread the situation and they were really practicing judo. (Ironically,
this is how my wife describes my behavior on a dance floor).
We are not talking supra-segmental-phonemes here,
So what is the child doing motorically at 6 to 8
months--during the period of Lalling and Jargon?
 This is not to imply that the 6
month old baby is using suprasegmental phonemes here.
 Instead what we are
underscoring is the fact that the
basic rudiments of prosody for
the language have been
recognized, and are being
practiced by the baby.
 Later these well rehearsed
patterns will be available for the
more complicated supra
segmental phonemic function to
 In terms of motor
development, babies at this
point are actually able to
stand by holding on to
 When they grab an object,
they will hold their thumb in
opposition to the fingers.
8 to 12 months—It sounds like speech but it’s
really ECHOLALIA to me.
 You may say to the baby of 8
months, "Daddy’s coming…" and
the baby may reply, "Daddy
coming…" It sounds great but
in most instances it is just a
fancy bit of jargon in which the
child has put the phonemes in
the "proper" order.
 It is a sign of some good
eidetic imagery and a well
developed mixer, but there is
no semantic content involved.
The child has no concept of
meaning of the words "daddy"
or "coming" let alone the
 significance of the two word
combination. Although it is a
step above jargon, it is not yet
speech and language.
 This occurs a lot with older
nonverbal children who are
progressing through the
milestones of speech at a much
slower pace.
 They will often fool us (not
purposely, of course) into
thinking they have reached that
symbolic milestone when they in
fact haven't quite made it yet.
So what is the child doing motorically at 8 to 12
months during the period of Echolalia?
 Motorically, when it comes to
creeping, the baby is the expert.
 And when they pull themselves up
to a standing position, still using
objects as support, they will begin
to explore making little side steps
while still hanging on.
 ONE YEAR—a time to be one!
Luria hypothesized that the
human brain achieves a level of
organization, at around one
year, that no other mammal is
able to reach. That is the
unification of the brain into one
single functioning unit. It is at
this point that symbolic
communication becomes possible.
 And it is at this point that the
child speaks one word. (While
all this may be true, the one
year old child has accrued a
receptive vocabulary of around
50 words.
1 year to 1 1/2 years--Identification Language
 Actually, the receptive
vocabulary of the one year old
child will probably be much
larger than 50 words, if you
have been reading to him/her
every day, and talking to the
child a lot.
 It is a thrill at 10 and 11
months to tell the “speechless
little speck of humanity” we call
our baby to get daddy's shoe
and have him/her actually do it.
 This first word that the child
utters may not be a perfect
pronunciation. It may be, for
example, "dada" for "father" or
 "baba" for "bottle." But the
consistency with which he/she
uses the word in the presence
of the object (referent) leaves
no doubt as to its meaning.
 Sometimes the word is a
composite, like "bye-bye-now."
Although to the adult, it may
seem like two words, to the
child it is all one. If this
were a 400 level course, we
would call this a progressive
phonological idiom.
 The vocabulary will grow slowly
from this point on.
So what is the child doing motorically at 1 year to 1 1/2
years during the period of Identification Language?
 For the next six months (1 to 1
/1/2 years), the words will be
used after their referent
appears. Daddy may come into
the room and baby says "dada."
A bottle is shown to the baby
and the baby say, "baba." This
is called Identification
Language. The second six
months will bring a subtle but
significant change.
 Motorically, like the wild boy of
Avyron, the baby is running an
all fours with great efficiency.
 He/she can stand alone now and
may even take that first ONE
step alone. Outside of that
he/she will walk haltingly when
held by the hand.
1 1/2 years to 2 years--Anticipatory Language,
and the Holophrastic sentence.
 A subtle change that takes
place by in the second six
months (1 1/2 to 2 years) is
the generation of the word
before the stimulus appears.
 This is called Anticipatory
Language and it takes speech
out of the realm of the old
stimulus-response paradigm.
Now speech gives the baby some
control over his/her
 For example, the baby says,
"dada" and daddy appears. She
says "baba," and someone gives
her a bottle. This was the
 level of language that Itard
longed to achieve for Victor
the wild child. Unfortunately
with the exception of perhaps
only one instance in the visual
modality, this goal was not
achieved. On at least one
occasion, Victor did spell out
the work "milk," when he was
 The Holophrastic Sentence.
The words that the child is
generating during this period
are more than simple referentsymbol relationships.
So what is the child doing motorically at 1 1/2 years to
2 year, during the period of Anticipatory Language?
 If one notes the context in which
the words are uttered, it will
become apparent that the same
word may be conveying different
messages at different times.
 "Baba" on one occasion may mean,
"Bring me a bottle." On another
occasion, it may mean, "That is my
bottle." An still on another it may
mean, "That is mine--don't
touch." It might even mean,
"That is white like my bottle."
 These are in essence, one word or
Holophrastic sentences. They have
within them in the deep structure,
the implicit
 beginning of grammatical
functions including, for example,
verb categories, nouns and the
possessive case.
 Motorically, the child is now
walking, albeit with a somewhat
stiff gait. He/she is beginning
to build towers two blocks high,
and shows some preference for
one hand or the other.
small words for baby and a big bang for language
 At one year the child
communicated symbolically for
the first time. But language is
more than just symbols and
 What gives language its big
edge, as a means of
communication, is the convention
of putting single words into
strings to express ideas!
 We could try to create a symbol
for every thought we would like
to communicate, but very soon
we would find our lexicon to be
 unmanageable and still growing.
But by combining words to
express new ideas, all of a
sudden, a limited vocabulary
can go a very long way!
 So this is that time (2 years)
when the child exhibits a
subconscious knowledge of the
concept (part of what is called
language competency) and puts
two words together to express
and idea! But not until they
have accumulated an expressive
vocabulary of at least 50
Language and the Big Bang Theory--duality of patterning.
 E
MC 2 !
Separating the babies from the gorillas.
 Surprisingly, humans are not the
only species that put symbols
together to express ideas. At
least one Gorilla (Koko) and some
chimpanzees will do this, up to
three visual symbols, (and
maybe four, except that the
fourth is usually a repetition of
one of the other symbols in the
 But there is one significant
difference--sentence form, or
as we discussed it, morphology
and syntax, is missing! It is
true, that if the Gorilla is
responding to your question, they
will copy to a degree your word
 order. But, when they
generate a "sentence," the
words may come in any order
without any bound morphemes.
 Surprisingly, again, human
babies are tuned into word
order before they ever utter a
holophrastic sentence.
 The reaction of babies, a little
under one year old, to words
presented in order versus words
out of order was found to be
significantly different. It is
interesting, also, that there are
no languages, present or past,
in the history of humanity that
lack a sophisticated grammar.
The search for Baby Grammar
 If you think English grammar is
hard, get a load of Aborigine
 One major benefit of grammar,
as we described it, is in the
redundancy it provides for
decoding or going from surface
structure to deep structure.
 The search for the "Holy Grail"
to the developmental
psycholinguist was to find and
define a "baby grammar." In
one description there were
identified two classes of words,
”Pivot and Open." Pivot words
were those used frequently by
 the child and these were small
in number. Open words
included all the rest of the
child's lexicon. The big
restriction (grammar) was that
Open words were never
combined in the same
 This of, course would have
been an explicit example of
grammar. Unfortunately,
although this was described in
one study, it was not
reduplicated in others.
Apparently, the Holy Grail is
yet to be found.
“All the world ‘s a stage, and Morphemes and Semantic
features are the players…”( W. Shakespeare)
 (Ok, Shakespeare did not say
exactly that about the world
stage, but what can you expect
from a (your) professor who
majored in Tropical Agriculture).
 With children having an
apparently innate ability to tune
in to the structure of the
language being spoken, semantic
features in combination with
morphemes seem to set the
stage for the development of
 In every child's environment,
there are actors (parents),
actions and objects etc. These
 are the semantic features or
elements that are related to
the baby's needs. They are
ordered through the structure
and/or morphology of the
language. The child is tuned in,
at least initially, to that
 In English at the two morpheme
stage, the child uses any two of
the semantic features. Hence,
you might hear in Stage I of
Roger Browns Developmental
Chart, the following two word
sentences (on the next slide,
So what is the child doing motorically at 2 to 2 1/2
years, during the stage of Syntactic Speech?
“Daddy (actor) Ball
(object),”." Or,
“Daddy (actor) throw
(action),” or
“Throw (action) ball (object).”
All of which may mean, "Daddy
throw the Ball.”
The human brain seems
genetically predisposed to
search out these noun phraseverb phrase rules for ordering
of these semantic features in a
two word sentence.
From here, the development
path leads to three and four
word more complex sentences as
 described by Brown. This is our
inheritance and a prerequisite to
language development.
 Motorically, babies can walk now
with ease, and even run; and can
manage going up and down the
stairs, putting both feet on each
step at a time.
INTENT--and a 1000 new bucks for your bang!
 A new window of opportunity
opens during this period. During
the year from 1 to 2, the baby
amassed 50 new words. From 2
to 3 they will increase their
vocabulary by more than 1000
 The recurrent theme of this
period is the phrase, "What's
this?" or some variation. The
child has an innate "inquiring
mind that wants to know", and a
brain that is ready to accept
and catalog this new information
in volumes. I was once
introduced into a small group of
 people, which included a 3 year old
little girl. I immediately forgot
everyone's name (as usual) but was
further embarrassed by the fact
that the three year old
remembered everyone's name with
 Then I remembered how in my
beginning college Russian class, I
wilted at the prospect of having to
learn 10 new words per class.
 This child eagerly sought out twice
that many in a day and needed no
study cards to remember them. I
was left to ponder the differences
in our brains.
 So what is the lesson to be
learned here? We need to BE
THERE to provide that input
during this period. That means
reading to the child a lot, and
talking to him/her even more.
 This is easier said than done.
Answering the child's endless
requests for names and
explanations, like "mad cow
disease," will turn any adult's
mind into mush in short order.
 It takes high dedication,
intense focus and selflessness
beyond belief to do this.
Typically only well informed or
fanatic parents (usually mothers
 or grandmothers) will do this.
Baby sitters and day care
attendants (who have other
responsibilities) typically will not
bother or may not have the
 The time will pass, however,
whether or not the input is
provided, and the window will
close slowly. If the input has
been there, the impact on the
child's language development will
be profound! You will become
impressed with the child's
awareness of his/her
environment, and the precision
of his/her thought processes.
So, what is the child doing motorically at 2 1/2 to 3
years, during the stage of Communicative Intent?
 You will marvel at the child’s
ability to express their
thoughts and/or to explain in
detail why they are not doing
what you told them to do (the
fruits of a formal language
 Motorically, the child is
stressing his/her mother out
by climbing and jumping a lot.
 They can stand on one foot in
precarious places. They will
get into all kinds of containers
using their enhanced hand and
finger coordination.
 They will master the six block
tower, although dad may have
some problems with it.
 With the lexicon and grammar of
the child well underway, the next
number of years will see a
rhetorical style emerge, including a
host of favorite words and
phrases. This will continue
throughout life and will change as
the settings of the individual
change. This is referred to as
 There is something more to be said
about style, however, which has a
profound effect upon the child's
future and is tied into the
parenting philosophy of the family.
Two styles of language were
 described by Basil Bernstein:
Restricted and Formal.
 Restricted Language is the code
used by people who are very
familiar with each other. I've
been married for over 40 years.
My wife says, "Can we….," I say
"I don't…," and she says, "How
about…," and I say "Fine."
 Translated, that restricted
language means that she wanted to
watch television tonight but I had
to work on school stuff, so she
suggested as an alternate plan
that we go for walk later, and I
said that it sounded like a good
idea to me.
Restricted Language--More Bang for your Buck
 Restricted Language is also the
language used in a family who
subscribes to an authoritarian
approach to child rearing.
 For example, in a family where
both parents work and there
are several children, there is
precious little time or energy to
get things done in the few hours
before and after work.
 Efficiency is the key, so when
dad or mom speak, children are
supposed to hop-to. Crisp
commands like "Turn it off! Eat
quietly! Sit up! Brush your
teeth! Stop yelling! Get
 dressed! Pick the toys up!!!
Don't hit your sister!" keep
things under control and get
things done with a minimum
expenditure of time and
 Notice that much is
accomplished with supra
segmental phonemes and body
“language.” On the other
hand there is a paucity of
grammatical structures and
transformational rules. That,
of course, is what makes it so
Formal Language--More Bucks for your Bang
 Formal Language is the code of a
democratic family philosophy.
Discussions abound but often not
much gets done too quickly.
 For example, a supper scenario
might go like this. Dad says,
"Children, I have just noticed a
thick column of black smoke issuing
from under the kitchen door.
Would anyone like to venture a
guess as to the possible causes,
and to the options the family has
in the event some kind of exodus
is required?" If we compare this
statement to it’s Restricted
counterpart, "FIRE, GET-OUT!" it
becomes even more apparent that
the former is laden with many
more grammatical structures.
So now, here is the child's problem
 I have used restricted language
myself, for the same reasons
outlined above. It's kind of a
"just this one time to get
things done," situation.
 The problem is that because it
is successful we tend to use it
more and more (kind of a
Skinnerian or operant
conditioning effect I suppose).
 We may use it in the morning
to get everyone off on time;
and we may use it in the
evening just to get supper,
clean the house; and in
between to keep our sanity.
 I think only a grandmother or
grandfather can appreciate how
unbelievably quickly the weeks
(months-years) sneak by while
your doing this. And without
realizing it, this has become the
linguistic style of the childrestricted language.
 In essence, the child does not
have a decoding system that
deals well with many syntactic
nuances. He/she finds these
tedious and incomprehensible.
This does not set the stage
favorabley to have good learning
experiences in school.
So now here is the teacher's problem, part A
 Let's say that little Edward,
who grew up in a restricted
language scenario as described
above, is now in the first or
second grade. In a moment of
high spirits he is doing a Gene
Kelly tap dance on top of one of
the classroom tables.
 The teacher may say, "Edward,
Edward, would you immediately
climb down from that table.
You may hurt yourself, and you
are putting scuff marks on the
table, which are difficult to
remove. Besides, you know how
upset the principle would be if
she saw you. She would
 probably keep the whole class
after school!" Of course, this
is a formal language code and
not within Edward's ability to
 As he stands there looking at
the teacher and thinking,
"HUH?" she wisely switches
styles and says, "GET DOWN
NOW !"
 Comprehending the message
Edward obediently complies.
A successful communication has
taken place.
So now here is the teacher's problem, part B
 Part A was solvable, but now the
teacher tries to share with the
class some of the wonders of
 She tries to explain how the earth
is a large round ball with molten
lava at its core, above which large
landmasses slowly float. In
millions of years some of the land
masses actually crash together,
wrinkling the surface to make what
seem to us to be large mountain
 As before, Edward thinks, "HUH?"
But now what is the teacher to do.
 There is nothing she can say
that is analogous to "GET
 Edward will not be able to
follow this lesson or almost any
other lesson. He will be bored
and will perform poorly.
 He has a significant language
problem that is not a
consequence of brain damage or
basic intelligence, but of a
restricted language code. How
can a teacher with 20 or 30
students and a curriculum to
follow reach this child?
So now here is the solution
 Sorry folks, there is no easy
solution to this one! The best
course of action is
 This takes the form of
counseling young parents to be
aware of the existence and
consequences of restricted
 This is not to say that there is
not a place for restricted
language. The child's safety
and the parent's sanity
sometimes demand it. What
the parent needs to consider,
however, is insuring EQUAL
TIME for formal language.
 This means they must take care
to include ample formal language
experiences each day.
 For example they must follow
restricted discourse with a
formal explanation, after the
need has passed.
 I might say, "Edward-out of
the Street-NOW!" and then
follow it later with an
explanation. "Edward, I yelled
at you because you were in
danger. The drivers of cars
cannot see you and may actually
hit you etc. etc."
Here is some food for thought--Serve some
Formal Language for Meals
 Meal times for many families
serves as a great opportunity to
discuss daily events using formal
language. In general,
discussions should be encouraged
for as many as family functions
 As of course, the "earthquake"
insurance for this earth
shattering linguistic catastrophe
(restricted language) is
READING to the child every
night, almost without fail.
 Books are paragons of formal
language, and by reading to the
 child, we come as close as we
can to insuring their competence
in understanding the complex
syntactic and morphological rules
of language, not to mention
thousands of more words than
they would have had.
 It may not be an example of
good etiquette, but in the
Hawking family, they spent
much time reading at the diner
table. Stephen Hawking, of
course, is one of the most
brilliant men alive today.
So, what is the child doing motorically at 3 years,
beginning the stage of Individuolect ?
 Motorically, the
child of three years
is hopping on one
foot... and running
 ...and climbing stairs
with alternating
 A definite hand
preference has been
 He/she can walk on
a straight line...
 ...and can throw a
ball to a receiver,
and can catch a ball
with both arms.
What more can I say?
 There are two more important
situations to note, that occur
during this, the Individuolect
period. One has to do with
fluency, and the other with
phoneme pronunciation.
 Fluency: From around two to
seven years of age, the child is
engaged in an activity that puts
many college students in fear-learning a new language. All
things being equal, it is a more
daunting task for the child
because they not only have to
learn the phonemes, morphemes,
syntax, semantics and
pragmatics, but they also have
 to learn the concepts that go
with the symbols. In addition,
they have not had much time to
sharpen their study skills.
 With the help of Chomsky's
Language Acquisition Device, and
many other biological aids (as
outlined by Eric Lenneberg in his
book, the Biological Foundations
of Speech), however, the child
prevails and becomes a linguistic
communicator in fairly short
 We almost forget that young
children are still beginners at
the language game.
Come together, right now…over me
 But it does not, to semi
quote the Beatles, “...come
together right now,” for the
 In other words, there are
many times that the child
will strive to find the
correct word; to apply the
best syntax; to correlate
the semantics and
pragmatics in order to most
effectively communicate
his/her thoughts. And,
because this is all new, many
mistakes will be made.
 The "comparator" for the child
will be busy sending error
 While the child gropes to make
the repair, he/she may make
additional errors. Children will
also frequently supply "filler"
sounds to hold their place in
the conversation.
 Children, like adults, sense
that if they are silent,
someone else will start talking,
or the listener will just become
preoccupied with something
Come, come, come, come, right
now, come together right, right now over, over,
over, over, over, over, me.
 The bottom line is that you
may hear in the child's
speech at this age, 2 to 7
years, some startling
 This can be very unnerving
to parents. When it's your
child that has the problem,
it seems to be far more
menacing. For example,
when this happened to our
two year old child, my wife
 became very upset and
immediately wanted to call in
a speech pathologist.
 I had to keep reminding her
that we both were speech
 In the notes are some of
her dysfluencies that
occurred in just one hour’s
 So what is to be done?
Come together, right now, but then wait and
don’t say anything
 When the child is dysfluent,
the listeners (usually Mom
and Dad, and frequently
extended family and friends)
should wait patiently, no
matter how long it takes,
and then respond positively
to the child's verbalization.
 No verbal comments nor
body language signs should
be made in the presence of
the child to indicate concern
or dissatisfaction with the
child’s communication skills.
 Parents, furthermore, should
run interference for the
child and ward off any
derogatory comments by
other children, teenagers or
adults in front of the child.
 For example, it is very
natural for others to mimic
the child's dysfluency.
 Eventually, maybe in months,
the dysfluencies will subside
as mysteriously as they
Stuttering can be a self fulfilling prophecy
 If the parents show their
concern over the dysfluencies to
the child, or should others
mimic and make fun of him/her,
the child's awareness of the
"problem" will likely be come
 Disapproval can lead to fear of
failure, and fear leads to
failure when it comes to making
the highly complex fine motor
movements of speech.
 A life long struggle with
dysfluency, now called
stuttering may ensue, and like a
firestorm may escalate as fear
 brings failure, and failure brings
more fear.
 We have a problem! If there is
evidence of struggling in the
child's attempts to speak, such as
blinking eyes or pursed lips or
increased oral pressure, the cat is
out of the bag and it is time to
call in a speech pathologist.
 This is not to say that stuttering
in every case is caused by peoples
response to a child’s dysfluencies.
There are many other causes of
stuttering, but this is one pitfall
that can and should be avoided.
Not all sounds are created equal
 The other issue for Individuolect
period is the child's phoneme
pronunciation. By four years of
age, the child is a master of
English. At least as far as the
morphology, syntax, semantics
and pragmatics are concerned.
 Ironically, the mechanism upon
which all these ride for
expressive language may not yet
be complete. Not all sounds are
equal and hence not all sounds
are learned at the same age.
 Some are easy to see and
require large muscle action, like
/p/ and /m/. These you might
expect the child to be able to
 make by age three. On the other
hand, /r/, /l/ and /s/, for
example are difficult to see and
require complex motor adjustments
of the tongue to produce.
 It is not uncommon for children to
acquire these sounds after five
years of age.
 We have no problem! So, when
little 3 year old Edward says, "I
thee the puthy cat thitting on the
fenth." is there cause for alarm?
 It all depends on the sound and
the age of the child. In this
case, for example, is the
mispronounced sound, /s/, one that
is typically is mastered by a three
year old child?
For this we have a solution.
 Most texts on speech and/or
language provide charts of
studies showing the average
age of mastery of phonemes
in English for children in the
general population.
 The text, Born To Talk
includes a chart showing the
results of three different
surveys. It shows that the
/s/ sound is not typically
mastered by three year old
children. Parents need to
be aware of this to lessen
their anxiety when it occurs.
 It would be very unwise to
chastise a 3 to 5 year old child
for mispronouncing /s/ or to
try and cajole him/her to
produce a proper /s/ sound.
 However, there is no harm in
providing sound awareness and
discrimination training, which is
all receptive to these or any
children. This can be done in a
paradigm of games or in
stories, by simply accenting the
sounds when it occurs in the
So have we said it all now?
 There is much more to language
than we have presented, obviously.
That is one reason why we have
included a text. The folks who
wrote this text have spent their
lives studying language, as have
scores of other scholars.
 What we have done here, with the
limited time that we have, is to
reach into the heart of the matter
so that we can set a course for
ourselves in promoting language
development, whether it is for our
own children, our grandchildren, or
our charges in the classroom.
 It is clear that we can and should
facilitate the course of language
 development for all children.
What remains now is to do it.
 In the notes below, is a final
comment from the Headmaster,
herself, your professor’s wife,
in person, thanking you for your
perseverance for sticking with
this course.
 I hope this has been as much
of a learning experience for
you as it has been for me. I
have enjoyed working with you!
 Dr. Hall

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