Cover image for How babies talk : the magic and mystery of language in the first three years of life
How babies talk : the magic and mystery of language in the first three years of life
Golinkoff, Roberta M.
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Publication Information:
New York : Dutton, [1999]

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xv, 256 pages ; 24 cm
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P118.5 .G65 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
P118.5 .G65 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
P118.5 .G65 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Did you know that a fetus can distinguish between similar sounds? Or that a four-month-old can recognize her name? The culmination of years of research, How Babies Talk explains exactly how babies learn language in their first three years of life.This accessible guide for parents outlines the milestones babies reach and how parents can help their babies reach them. It shows what they can do to facilitate the language learning process, how to use simple at-home tests to measure their child's progress, and what warning signs might indicate a problem.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Language learning is innate, and children throughout the world achieve the same milestones in much the same order. Recent advances in theoretical models and methodological tools reveal the "language instinct" in babies, newborns, and even fetuses. Armed with an understanding of language development--from what fetuses hear to infant communication to crying, babbling, pointing, and first words to toddler vocabulary building, simple sentences, and the emergence of grammar to using language to get what is wanted--parents will be better able to encourage children and to spot when development is not proceeding normally. The book's prose is crisp, clear, concise, often humorous. The contents are unusually substantive for a handbook targeted to parents, as the bibliography of scientific citations confirms. Important scientific results and their applications to daily life are highlighted as lessons under the heading "Scientific Sleuthing Pays Off" and modified for use at home as "Try This" exercises. A key resource for parenting collections. --Kathryn Carpenter

Library Journal Review

Both mothers and specialists in infant language, Golinkoff (education, Univ. of Delaware) and Hirsh-Pasek (psychology, Temple Univ.) present an in-depth study of language development during the first three years of life. Beginning with the fetus and newborn, the authors take the reader through the steps and stages of language learning. The text is interspersed with activities readers can use to assess the specific development of their own children. While stressing the individual differences of children in using language, each chapter includes indicators of delayed development to alert parents and caregivers. How Babies Talk should be useful and interesting to anyone involved with young children. Recommended for public and academic libraries.ÄKay L. Brodie, Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction Setting the Stage: The Magic of Language Development in the First Three Years of Lifep. 1
Language Milestonesp. 5
The Source of Our Knowledge: Scientific Sleuthingp. 7
Theoretical breakthroughsp. 7
Methodological breakthroughsp. 8
Scientific Sleuthing Pays offp. 9
Chapter 1. Watch Your Language! The Fetus Can Hear You: Development from Before Birth to Three Months of Agep. 13
The Fetusp. 13
The Fetal Environment: Home Sweet Homep. 13
Baby, Do You Read Me? Hearing Mother's Voice and Other Soundsp. 14
Try This: Can my fetus hear? Can my fetus hear me?p. 16
Does Fetal Learning Mean Fetal School?p. 17
Birthing the Baby: Will the Newborn Resemble the Fetus?p. 18
Try This: Does the newborn react to sounds?p. 19
Communicating Through Cryingp. 20
Mother, Is That You? Newborns Prefer to Hear Mother's Voicep. 21
Distinguishing the World's Languagesp. 23
Try This: Does your baby respond to foreign languages?p. 24
Face-to-Face: Love at First Look?p. 25
Try This: Charting baby's smilesp. 28
Do Mouths and Voices Work Together?p. 28
Newborn Copycatsp. 30
Try This: Can my baby copy me?p. 30
The Roots of Conversationp. 31
Baby Talk Mattersp. 31
Try This: Do babies react to baby talk?p. 34
More Than Meets the Eyep. 34
Scientific Sleuthing Pays Offp. 35
Lesson 1. Silence is not goldenp. 35
Lesson 2. New scientific methods can yield assessment toolsp. 36
Lesson 3. Overestimate your baby's capabilitiesp. 37
Chapter 2. Yada-Yada-Yada: The Babbling Period Between Four and Eight Months of Agep. 39
Babies Do Babblep. 39
How Babies Talk to Usp. 41
Try This: Conversations from the crib?p. 42
From Coos and Goos to Babblingp. 43
Try This: Are "Mama" and "Dada" real words or just arbitrary sounds?p. 44
Why Babies Babblep. 44
How We Babble to Babiesp. 47
Widening the Topics of Conversationp. 47
Try This: Finding objects near and farp. 48
Finding the Words (and Other Units) in the Stream of Speechp. 48
What's a Word Worth?p. 48
Use Your Head! The Headturn Preference Procedurep. 49
Try This: Will baby notice disrupted speech?p. 51
Learn Your Handle: Lauren, Not Louisep. 52
Try This: Does baby respond to her own name?p. 54
Once Upon a Time: Babies Recognize Words in Storiesp. 54
How Do You Mean? Babies Grapple with Word Meaningsp. 56
Scientific Sleuthing Pays Offp. 59
Lesson 1. Hear ye, hear ye: Watch for ear infectionsp. 59
Lesson 2. There is nothing wrong with small talkp. 60
Chapter 3. Point-ilism: Parents Become Tools for Babies Between Nine and Twelve Months of Agep. 63
Learning to Communicate Without Wordsp. 64
Finding the Causal Connection: My Signals Can Make Things Happen!p. 64
Try This: Can my baby communicate with intention?p. 67
How Do Babies Learn to Make Their Point?p. 67
Try This: When can baby follow a point?p. 69
The Negotiation of Failed Messages: You Just Don't Get It!p. 70
Try This: How does my baby negotiate?p. 72
Let the Words Begin!p. 73
Preverbal Communication: The Cradle of Meaningp. 73
Detecting the Patterns in the Language Streamp. 74
The Decline in Distinguishing Among the Sounds of the World's Languagesp. 77
Whither the Words?p. 78
Try This: Playing gamesp. 80
Scientific Sleuthing Pays Offp. 80
Lesson 1. Honor babies' communicative attempts even before they are intentionally communicativep. 80
Lesson 2. Put my thoughts into words!p. 83
Chapter 4. First Words: Getting "Hi" Between Twelve and Eighteen Months of Agep. 87
What Does It Take to Learn a Word?p. 88
The Flowering of Vocabularyp. 88
The Stars and Stripes and Other Symbolsp. 90
Try This: Comics in the crib?p. 92
The Fertile Path to Real Wordsp. 92
Try This: Creating a diary of protowords and first wordsp. 94
Communicating Efficientlyp. 94
Try This: Tracking the use of the baby's first ten wordsp. 96
"Home Signs" and "Baby Signs"p. 97
Try This: Can my baby learn some baby signs?p. 99
Symbols, Categories, Meanings, and Emotionsp. 100
"Dog," Not "Dalmatian"; "Hat," Not "Baseball Cap": Why Babies Prefer Some Words over Othersp. 100
Try This: What kinds of words are my baby's first ten words?p. 102
How Do Meanings and Words Come Together?p. 103
Saying Your First Words: A Sobering Taskp. 104
Try This: Does my baby express emotion when she talks?p. 106
First Words Take Effort, More for Some Than Othersp. 106
A Tale of Two Toddlersp. 106
Name Callers and Social Sophisticatesp. 107
Try This: Is my baby a name caller or a socialite? What kind of parent am I?p. 109
Word Comprehension Exceeds Word Productionp. 110
Scientific Sleuthing Pays Offp. 112
Lesson 1. More baby talk = More baby's talkp. 112
Lesson 2. There are big individual differences in the appearance of the first wordsp. 112
Lesson 3. Picture book reading is a source of new wordsp. 112
Lesson 4. When do you worry about a lack of words?p. 113
Chapter 5. Vocabulary Takes Wing: Eighteen to Twenty-Four Monthsp. 115
The Vocabulary Spurtp. 115
Finding the Vocabulary Spurtp. 116
Try this: Catching the torrent of words in a diaryp. 117
Word Learning Is a Bear (Bare?)p. 118
What Are Toddlers Talking About?p. 118
Try This: Book reading as a classroom for word learningp. 122
Babies Overextend Themselves: Misapplying Words for All the Right Reasonsp. 123
Try This: Looking for overextensionsp. 127
Does Sensitivity to Social Cues Lead to the Vocabulary Spurt?p. 127
Try This: Is your child using social cues to learn new words?p. 130
Do Mental Advances Lead to the Vocabulary Spurt?p. 130
Try This: Categorizing objects and the vocabulary spurtp. 133
Fast Mapping: Novel Names Go with Novel Categoriesp. 133
Try This: Fast mapping and the vocabulary spurtp. 135
An Integrated View of the Vocabulary Spurt: It Takes Social Skill and Mental Advancesp. 136
Individual Differences in Word Learningp. 137
Pronunciation: Saying It My Wayp. 137
Try This: Recording the baby's favorite mistakesp. 000
Boys and Girls: Early Sightings of Mars and Venusp. 139
Firstborn Versus Later-Born Toddlersp. 140
Social Class Differences in Word Learningp. 141
Scientific Sleuthing Pays Offp. 143
Lesson 1. The study of normal development helps in understanding language problemsp. 143
Lesson 2. More language in = More language outp. 146
Lesson 3. Watching TV cannot make up for real communicationp. 147
Chapter 6. "More Juice!"--Babies Understand and Produce Simple Sentences Between Eighteen and Twenty-four Months of Agep. 149
What Toddlers Can Sayp. 149
Two-Word Sentences Say It Allp. 150
Try This: Two-word sentences take off! But what do they mean?p. 153
What enables the Baby to Use Two-Word Speech?p. 153
What Toddlers Can Understandp. 154
Investigating Two-Word Productions: What Children Comprehendp. 154
Try This: What are the cues my baby relies on to understand sentences?p. 155
What Does It Mean to Understand Sentences?p. 156
Babies find the units in the language streamp. 157
Babies realize that words in sentences describe events in the worldp. 158
Try This: Can my baby understand that language maps to unique events?p. 160
Different arrangements of the units in sentences change sentence meaningp. 161
Try This: Does my baby understand that differences in word order signal differences in meaning?p. 163
Beyond Word Order: Children Attend to Grammatical Elementsp. 164
Try This: Is my baby sensitive to grammatical elements?p. 168
"With"--A Grammatical Element in Actionp. 169
Comprehension Far Outpaces Production, but Why?p. 170
Scientific Sleuthing Pays Offp. 172
Lesson 1. Engage in rich interpretation but don't bother to correctp. 172
Lesson 2. Your baby's caregiver is your allyp. 174
Chapter 7. The Language Sophisticate at Twenty-four to Thirty-six Months: Why? Why? Why?p. 175
The Emergence of Grammatical Capabilityp. 175
Adding Glue to the Sentence: Function Words and Particlesp. 176
Try This: Finding grammatical function words and particles in your child's speechp. 178
Overgeneralizations: It Breaked!p. 179
Asking Questionsp. 180
What's Up, Doc? Wh-Questionsp. 181
Why, Why, Why?p. 182
Ifs, Ands and Buts: The Grammatical Spurtp. 184
Is It Really Grammar?p. 185
The Source of Grammatical Capability in the Human Speciesp. 187
Where Does the Grammar Come From?p. 187
A Language Instinct?p. 189
The Critical Period: Time Is Running Outp. 190
Scientific Sleuthing Pays Offp. 191
Lesson 1. When should you worry?p. 192
Lesson 2. What should we do or not do to promote language growth?p. 193
Lesson 3. It's never too early to start learning a second languagep. 194
Chapter 8. "Please" and "Thank You": Using Language to Get Things Done Between Twenty-four and Thirty-six Monthsp. 199
Mastering the Uses of Languagep. 199
Learning a Language Is Learning a Culturep. 202
What Are You Really Asking? How Toddlers Understand Requestsp. 204
Try This: How do I ask questions? Does my child make conversational inferences?p. 209
How to Ask: Getting What We Wantp. 210
Try This: Can my child consciously use polite speech?p. 213
Learning Social Routinesp. 213
Conversations with Two-year-oldsp. 215
Try This: Can my child observe conversational rules?p. 219
Beyond Conversation: Telling the Stories of Our Lives Through Narrativesp. 219
Try This: Does my child tell coherent narratives?p. 221
Using Language for Fun: Jokes and Pretensep. 222
Try This: Does my toddler make jokes?p. 224
Scientific Sleuthing Pays Offp. 224
Lesson 1. Constructing life stories with your child promotes narrative developmentp. 224
Lesson 2. There's more to storybooks than meets the eyep. 227
Epilogue Tying It Up: Language Development from Birth to Age Threep. 229
How Far Have Children Come?p. 229
Where Is the Child Going?p. 232
Referencesp. 235
Indexp. 251