Baby Talk: How Children Produce Language?

How did the age and gender of the infant/child affect the way in which adults spoke to him/her? Make a note of any of the specific milestones in language development WITH definitions. For example, did the child exhibit an understanding of semantics, syntax, pragmatics, phonology, holophrases, telegraphic speech?

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The age of a child affects the way in which adults spoke to one greatly. As it was concluded in the TEDTalks, adults adapt to the language of kids, trying to make it more simple and understandable (TED, 2011). The gender also has particular influence, but it is less obvious and is more connected with the emotional coloring of the speech and word selection. According to the videos, children are good at understanding semantics (the meaning of the words and sentences). Pragmatics (relation of the meaning to the manner, place, etc.) is also not a problem, as they consider the event and connect them with the words used.

Children actively use holophrases (one word bears the meaning of the whole phrase) and telegraphic speech (omission of some words to express the idea only in a couple of them). In this way, they have an opportunity to communicate even though they have a limited vocabulary. Kids often refer to onomatopoeia (imitation of sounds) to substitute the words they do not know or find difficult to pronounce. Syntax (structure of a sentence) is not a big problem, as children can automatically construct sentences with new words. Still, grammar (the composition of words and phrases) seems to be rather difficult for them, as there are many exceptions that cannot be applied to the general rules (e.g., mouse-mice).

How were the words used to speak to the adults different from those used to speak to the infants/children? (For example, did they differ in complexity?) Was there a difference in the speed with which adults speak to other adults compared to their conversations with infants/children? Describe how they are different. Why does that matter?

The way adults speak to each other differs from how they communicate with children greatly. First of all, they use less complex language with kids for them to understand the meaning of the sentences and learn new words. The same reasons make them speak slower than usual (Feldman, 2014). Moreover, adults tend to be more emotional, which allows children to understand semantics better even if they do now know some words in the sentence. Emotions also influence the way children respond. In this way, adults give kids an opportunity to master the language faster (Purefoy, 2009). Except for that, children sense the difference in approaches and pay more attention to the speech that is directed to them.

For each observation, what type of speech did the infant/child seem to prefer – infant-directed or adult-directed? Why do you think they preferred that style of speak?

After watching the videos, it can be concluded that children prefer the infant-directed type of speech. First of all, parents tend to use it when communicating with kids, and they get used to such style. When being with adults, kids can easily understand when they address them and what is meant due to the alterations in the speech. When adult-directed style is used, kids seem to be less enthusiastic about supporting the conversation and looking more confused. As a result, children tend to pay less attention to it and keep silent. Even though infant-directed speech becomes faster and more complicated when the child grows, it still differs from the adult-directed one.

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From your observation and what you have learned about language acquisition thus far, do the language skills you have observed for each child match the expected skills for your estimated age of each child? Why or why not?

To my mind, the language skills I have observed basically match the expected ones.

Zack is 15 months old, and he learns two languages. He calls “mammy” and is able to respond to her. He brings toys when it is needed. Zack often imitates sounds instead of using the words; however, his parents repeat them instead of names. He might know more words, but it is not shown in the video.

Maura is 2.5 years old. She learns ten new words a day, responds to adults, and speaks about the future. She imitates the sounds of animals. Maura repeats new words after her mother and automatically constructs them into a sentence. Her grammar is irregular, which is normal. She has a sense of self-awareness.

Fourteen months Julia lacks self-awareness, and her speech is not shown in the video (Intrepidpolymath, 2010).


Derrick Purefoy. (2009, November 7). Howard Gardner of the multiple intelligence theory. Web.

Feldman, R. S. (2014). Life span development: A topical approach (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. Web.

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Intrepidpolymath. (2010, September 4). How children language and produce language. Web.

TED. (2011, March 14). Deb Roy: The birth of a word. Web.

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