The main objective is to catch the child’s attention and get a response from the child. As the child turns one, he begins to respond to the speech sounds from his/her native language. Before a child starts going to school, he/she has already acquired the knowledge of hundreds of words that allow him/her to communicate with others.
➠ First words and holophrases
➠ Telegraphic speech
➠ Making language-based sounds at 2 months, babies produce soft vowel-like (ooooo…ahhhh) vocalizations till three months. This stage is referred to as cooing.
➠ At 6 months, the child makes speech-like sounds or repetition of single syllables that have no meaning (ma-ma-ma, ba-ba-ba). This stage is referred to as babbling.
➠ Between 9-12 months, the child utters single words or holophrases (Mommy, dada, cat, ball, etc.) to express themselves. They might use the same word for many things. For example, they might refer to every animal as ‘doggie’. This is called overextension. Similarly, a child might use the word doggie for the family dog and not other dogs. This is called underextension.
➠ At 18 months, the child’s vocabulary begins to grow rapidly. Once the child’s vocabulary includes 50 words, a sudden spurt occurs. Thereafter, the vocabulary increases at a rate of 50 to 100+ words every month. Most of the words are nouns. This period is referred to as the naming explosion. A child in the age group of 18-24 months is likely to start uttering two-word sentences.
Between 2½ and 5 years, a child is able to form long sentences with grammatical morphemes (meaningful units of language).
The term ‘telegraphic speech’ was coined by an American psycholinguist named Roger Brown in 1963. It refers to the two-word stage of language acquisition. It is derived from the word ‘telegram’. Just as unnecessary words, conjunctions, articles, etc., were omitted while sending a telegram to save money, children in the age group of 1½ to 2 years omit grammatical morphemes such as the conjunctions, prepositions, articles, possessives, connective words, etc. Their sentences or phrases usually include the main words, which might include the noun and verbs.
The child only uses the words that are relevant to meaning. Function words (a, the, in), auxiliary words (is, was, will be), and word endings (plurals, possessives, verb tenses) are omitted.
During the early stage of speech acquisition, two main classes of words that are used include pivot words (words that are used in the same place within an utterance) and open words (words that are used in different places in different utterances). Out of the two-word utterances, one word is a pivot word and the other is an open word. Psycholinguists also believe that children follow the basic order rule, wherein the sentence includes the agent, action, object, and location. If the two-word sentence includes the agent and action, the sequence of words will be agent-action, and not action-agent. The same will apply to the sentence that includes action and object.