Chapter 11: Child Language Acquisition

11.10 Language milestones in the first two years

This table summarizes some of the typical language development milestones that children reach in the first two years of life. Remember, though, that language learning is not a race! Children vary immensely from each other, and with appropriate access to other humans using language, nearly every child will develop a mental grammar in due time.

Age Babies can…
Before birth respond differently to pregnant parent’s voice than other voices (hearing fetuses only).
0;0 respond differently to prosody of pregnant parent’s spoken language than to other language (hearing infants only).
0;6 notice differences in handshapes (sighted infants only) and speech segments (hearing infants only).
0;6 begin to produce rhythmic babbling with syllable structure.
0;9 produce first words (sign-acquiring babies).
1;0 categorize phonetically different segments into phoneme categories of the ambient language.
1;0 understand meanings of about ten common words.
1;0 produce first words (speech-acquiring babies).
1;2 interpret novel words differently depending on syntactic category.
1;3 assign compositional meaning depending on syntactic structure.
1;6 produce utterances of two or three words.
1;6 understand meanings of about 50 words.
2;0 interpret meanings for novel verbs depending on syntactic frames.
2;0 ask questions.


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Essentials of Linguistics, 2nd edition Copyright © 2022 by Catherine Anderson; Bronwyn Bjorkman; Derek Denis; Julianne Doner; Margaret Grant; Nathan Sanders; and Ai Taniguchi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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