Language Research from Daddy-N

Daddy-N is a news-aholic.  And WCB has been an opportunity for him to research child development stuff galore.  He came up with this cool stuff recently about language development.  In order to respect copyright law, I am unable to paste the specific paragraphs/sections he refers to in his post, and the referenced web page has very sparse navigation options.  I have done my best to direct you to the right parts of this very long article he is talking about.  Enjoy! OLM

 I got curious and googled some on infant language.  Thought I’d share some interesting excerpts from Daniel Kies‘ work below.  WCB seems way ahead of the curve discussed in the chronology listed in this excerpt [5 paragraphs above this section, both physically and linguistically – but there are some interesting findings that could be helpful.  I’m often certain, for example, that WCB is trying hard to tell us things sometimes that we’re just not getting.

I think we should try to pay more attention to one of the points under Communication before Language  [10th – 13th paragraphs under the Crying, Cooing, & Babbling header] that “prosodic” features like pitch & intonation are used much more by infants than the actual consonants and vowels chosen.  They give the example of how for one child “MA-ma” meant “mother” and “ma-MA” meant ‘father” – perhaps WCB is already saying “mother” intentionally by some variation of her “da’s,” and there might even be a distinction already between Daddy-O & Daddy-N somewhere in there.

On the other side of the language equation, the other day I had a profound revelation about just how much language WCB understands, even though she won’t be able to make her own language on the same level for a long time to come.  I told WCB, “you have a sock on your tunnel!” – and she turned to look exactly at the sock on her play tunnel.  Surprised, I decided to test her, and said, “can you bring me the sock?”  And she immediately got the sock and handed it to me!  (And no, I wasn’t using hand gestures or in any way indicating my meaning with hand signals.)*  I find this fascinating especially given that she hardly ever wears socks, and the tunnel is pretty new to her, so both words have sunk in with little apparent effort.

Thus this excerpt about interacting verbally with little’uns [under Preconditions for Language Learning – 3rd-5th paragraphs under the Social Preconditions header] is worth paying attention to soon, as well. It implies that we need to focus on semantic expansion rather than just grammatical expansion when we repeat things back to her. 

*Isn’t Daddy N a proud papa? I think he’s just dying to talk with her. I know *I* wish I could know what she is thinking with that serious little face – or wanting with that frustrated-sounding “DAHT daht DAHT!”    OLM


2 Responses to “Language Research from Daddy-N”

  1. oneluckymommy Says:

    Ahem, proud parents are not the most unbiased of researchers. 🙂

    I think Daddy N may be overstating Solvi’s understandings. I was nearby when this happened, and I think perhaps Daddy N may not realize how much he was communicating with his eyes and body language (it happened very fast). I remember not being surprised that she looked where he was looking/indicating, and then assumed she handed him the sock because he was indicating it in some way.

    Right now WCB is in a phase of offering things to everyone – she enjoys the exchange. I do think, while not perhaps a solid measure of her understanding of *words*, it shows sharp understanding of common human interactions, and what is “out of place” in her world.

    He looked from her face to the sock and asked about the sock. She looked where he was looking, and saw something very out of place in her world (white thing on green cloth). Dad asks for the sock – and we’ve “asked for” stuff from her so often now that I’m willing to believe she understands “can you give me” as a concept, if not the actual words. She graps out of place thing and offers it to dad who clearly wants it. Ta da! “sock” word never actually has to be grasped.

    Or it could have been – you never know!

  2. Lamont Cranston Says:

    No words for Uncle L, though. Unless *drooooool* is a word.


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