Key Linguistic Stages Of Development

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The Pre-verbal Stage

  • Vegetative stage - 0-4 months
  • Cooing - 4-7 months
  • Babbling - 6-12 months
  • Proto-words - 9-12 months
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Lexical & Grammatical Stages of Development

  • Holophrastic/ one-word stage - 12-18 months
  • Two-word stage - 18-24 months
  • Telegraphic stage - 24-36 months
  • Post-telegraphic stage - 36+ months
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The Vegetative Stage

  • 0-4 months
  • Sounds of discomfort or reflexive actions.
  • Crying is the first main vocal expression that a baby makes.
  • Crying makes the caregiver aware that the baby needs something.
  • It can indicate hunger, discomfort or pain.
  • Isn't really a concious act on the baby's part. 
  • It is an instinctive response to how it feels
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The Cooing Stage

  • 4-7 months
  • Comfort sounds and vocal play using open-mouthed vowel sounds
  • Baby starts making a small range of sounds.
  • Starts with vowels and then they start linking these to produce extended vowel combinations (e.g: ooo and aaaah) 
  • They start to use velar consonants (ones made using the back part of the tongue) to form sounds such as coo and ga.
  • The sounds don't carry any meaning.
  • Gradually the sounds become more defined and are strung together.
  • This vocal play is the start of the next stage- babbling. 
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The Babbling Stage

  • 6-12 months
  • Repeated patterns of conconsant and vowel sounds.
  • They start repeating consonant/vowel combinations (ma-ma-ma). This is known as reduplication or canonical babbling.
  • Sometimes these sounds are not repeated (goo-gi-goo-ga). This is known as variegated babbling.
  • The consonants that you usually get in these types of babbling are: h,w,j,p,b,m,t,d,n,k and g.

Extra Information:

  • Research has shown that deaf babies who have had some exposure to sign language will babble with their hands. This suggests that babbling is an innate activity, which is preprogrammed to happen in the process of language development.
  • Most people argue that babbling is a continuation of the baby's experimentation with sound creation rather than the production of sounds which carry meaning. 
  • However, others argue that babbling is the beginning of speech. 
  • Petitto and Holowka- videoed infants and found that most babbling came more from the right side of the mouth, which is controlled by the left side of the brain. This side of the brain is responsible for speech production. This suggests that babbling is a form of preliminary speech.
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The Babbling Stage Continued

  • The Babbling stage can be divided into two parts.
  • Phenemic expansion - when the baby starts to babble, the number of different phonemes (sounds) they produce increases.
  • Phenemic contraction - later in the babbling stage the baby reduces the number of phonemes it uses.
  • This is the period when a baby starts to concentrate on reproducing the phonemes it hears in its native language
  • It stops using the sounds that it doesn't heart from its carers.

Extra Information

  • A study at Bristol University found that babies who were exposed to different languages in the first nine months of life were more able to pick out the sounds of these languages as they got older. This is because phenemic contraction occurred less than it would than if the baby had been exposed to one language only.
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The Babbling Stage Continued

  • Even in the early stages of babbling some babies will use rhythms that resemble the speech patterns of adults
  • There will be recognisable intonation in the strings of phonemes that they put together.
  • E.G: At the end of a babbling sequence the intonation may rise, mirroring the kind of intonation adults use when asking a question. 
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The Proto-Words Stage

  • 9-12 months
  • Word-like vocalisations, not matching actual words but used consistently for the same meaning.
  • Certain combinations of consonants and vowels start to carry meaning (E.G: A child may say mmm to show they want more food). 
  • These aren't words in themselves but function like words. They are proto-words.
  • At around 9 months children start to sound like they're speaking in their own made up language. This is called jargon.
  • In the later stages of babbling, sound and meaning come together. This usually happens by the time the baby is 10 months old. 
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The Holophrastic Stage

  • 12-18 months
  • One-word utterances
  • The stage where a child says their first words.
  • Holophrases are the single words that express a complete idea (an individual word performs the same function as a sentence would)
  • E.G: When a child says teddy the meaning of this utterance isn't obvious straight away. It could mean various things. 
  • The caregiver often needs contextual clues and the child's non-verbal communications to interpret holophrases.
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The Two-word Stage

  • 18-24 months
  • Two word combinations
  • At around 18 months children start to use two words in conjunction.
  • When they do this they automatically begin to create grammatical relationships between words- this is the start of syntax.

Some common combinations

  • Subject + Verb (baby crying)
  • Verb + Object (catch ball)
  • Subject + Object (daddy dinner)
  • Subject + Complement (dolly dirty)
  • These combinations show similar patterns to more complex grammatical constructions.
  • The phrases use the basic blocks of meaning needed for sentences.
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The Telegraphic Stage

  • 24-36 months
  • Three or more words combined
  • At around 2 years, children start to use three of four word combinations.
  • Subject + Verb + Complement (doggy is naughty)
  • Subject + Verb + Object (Jodie want cup)
  • Verb + Object + Object (give mummy spoon)
  • These utterances are formed according to grammatical rules.
  • Children still focus on the words that carry the most meaning.
  • They omit functional words (E.G: prepositions, auxiliary verbs and determiners)
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The Post-Telegraphic Stage

  • 36+ months
  • More grammatically complex combinations
  • By the age of 5, children will be able to use a range of grammatical constructions including:
  • Coordinating conjunctions - (and & but) to link separate utterances.
  • Negatives - involving the auxiliary do (E.G: don't like it)
  • Questions - formed with who, where and what.
  • Inflections - like -ed for past tense, -ing for present participles and -s for plurals. 
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