Have you ever wondered how infants go from communicating via crying, to nonsensical noises, to single syllables, and eventually to words? Well, it turns out infants’ language learning is linked to being able to move their tongue when hearing the sounds: tongue movement isn’t just necessary for *making* speech sounds– it also helps babies *understand* […]
Browsing Tag: child language
Before babies can learn what a word means, they have to know what it sounds like.
What is wordform recognition? Before they can even consider learning what words mean, infants need to be able to recognize the consistent way that words sound, even though the same word can sound super different each time it’s said! Take a listen to this audio recording of all the times a baby heard other people […]
Phonology: the study of speech sounds in the mind
What is Phonology? Did you know that you had a set of unconscious rules about how you can arrange sounds in your language? Phonology is a field of study in linguistics that examines the patterns of sounds within a language and across different languages. It aims to study how we, as humans, mentally organize the […]
Abstract vs. Imageable words: which ones are easier to learn?
Some words are easier to form an image of than others. Think of the word moon: perhaps you think of a pale yellow crescent shape, or an illuminating white circle in front of a smoky blue backdrop. Regardless, the word has a high degree of imageability. Now think of the word truth: what exactly does […]
Kids tend to slice up the world into whole objects while they’re learning word meanings.
Scientists think that children have a “toolkit” that helps them make a guess about a new word’s meaning. That toolkit has strategies like shape bias and mutual exclusivity. Shape bias means that children are more likely to extend the meaning of a word to new objects that have similar shapes than they are to objects that […]
One way to research children’s development is through elicitation tasks.
Elicitation tasks are a category of research methods that refers to any technique aiming to bring out responses from people. It allows researchers to gain insights into what participants think and know. This method is used in a wide range of disciplines, from cognitive science to behavioral economics. Common elicitation tasks include questionnaires, interviews, and brainstorming […]
Words sometimes sound the same but mean different things, or mean the same thing but sound different! Homonymy, Synonymy, and Polysemy
Language can be ambiguous and confusing, even for adults. For example, sometimes two words that sound the same mean something very different, and sometimes words that sound very different have very closely related meanings! Homonymy, polysemy, and synonymy are just a few properties of language where the meanings and sounds of words interact. Let’s break […]