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Language Development

The Pre-Linguistic Phase

About the Designers
What is language?
Theories of Language Development
The Pre-Linguistic Phase
Beginnings of Intentional Communication
Guidelines for Intentional Communication
Intentional Communication: why?
Four Main Aspects of Language
Aquiring Words
Errors In Word Learning
Fun Facts

The pre-linguistic phase is the time period before children say their first meaningful words which lasts from approximately 0-13 months.(Shaffer,et al.,2002).
During this phase, infants will bring attention to objects non-verbally by pointing and touching. Accordingly, infants communicate by crying,cooing,and babbling (Siegler,&Alibali,2005).
Before infants learn spoken language, they can respond to sound and speech. During this phase, caregivers tend to speak  to infants in higher pitches and tones which can be refered to as prosity (motherese or baby talk). This baby talk however varies from culture to culture.
Babies usually respond to these higher pitches in speech by matching the pitch of the person who is speaking to them. They will often respond non-verbally by  expressing mood change, smiles,or bright eyes.  
Infants as early as three days old can distinguish and pay attention to speech(Shaffer,,2002).
From very early on infants can discriminate different  rhythms within words that have more than one syllable (Sansevini,Bartoncini,& Giovanelli,199, as cited in Shaffer et al 2002).
During the pre-verbal stage, many infants make vocal sounds which help them earn language. 
0-2 month olds usually make  reflexive crying and vegetative sounds to communicate (Allyn, & Bacon, 2005). One month old infants can discriminate consonant sounds like ba da and ta, and two month old infants can recognize that a particular vowel is still the same sound when spoken at different pitches. (Jusczyk, 1995; Marean, Werner, & Kuhl, 1992,as cited in Shaffer, et al.,2002).
Infants will also repond vocally during this phase. At age 2-6 months babies begin to babble, and at about 4 months babies will add consonant sounds to their babbles.
Babbling is important for infants because it helps them learn the sounds of speech. The babbles of infants have been found to be universal and they have also been found to match linguistic rhythms(Pettito,,2004). 
During the end of the pre-linguistic phase at about 7-8 months infants will start to learn turn taking in speech.

Chronology of Sounds


0-2 months
Reflexive crying, vegatative sounds (coughs, sneezes), Sounds reflecting their physical state.
2-5 months
Cooing and laughter. Early consonants develop, sounds from the back of throat, laughs and giggles form (to the enjoyment of parents).

4-6 months

Vocal play, babbling gets more adult-like, range and pitch play,, bilabial trills are common (raspberries).

6-12 months

Reduplicated babbling ex: mamama, pitch control develops, ability to sound out some consonants and vowels.

9-18 months

Non-reduplicative babbling, varying of consonants and vowels.