Why+Don’t+Babies+Talk+Like+Adults - Why...

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Why Don’t Babies Talk Like Adults? By: Joshua Hartshorne Kids go from goo-goo to garrulous one step at a time The setting: a nursery. A baby speaks directly to the camera: "Look at this. I'm a free man. I go anywhere I want now." He describes his stock-buying activities, but then his phone interrupts. "Relentless! Hang on a second." He answers his phone. "Hey, girl, can I hit you back?" This E*Trade commercial is only the latest proof of what comedians and movie directors have known for years: few things are as funny as a baby who talks like an adult because, as everyone knows, babies can't do that. This comedic law obscures an important question: Why don't young children express themselves articulately? By attempting to answer that question, researchers are uncovering clues about brain development and the mysterious process of learning a language. Recent work supports the seemingly counterintuitive idea that the way children learn to talk — in baby steps — remains the same no matter what age they are when they start to learn a language. In other words, a baby's degree of mental development has very little to do with the fact that he or she does not speak in complete sentences. Many people assume children learn to talk by copying what they hear. In other words, babies listen to the words adults use, and the situations in which they use them, and imitate accordingly. Behaviorism, the scientific approach that dominated the American study of cognition for the first half of the 20th century, made exactly this argument. This "copycat" theory cannot explain why toddlers are not as fluent as adults, however. After all, when was the last time you heard literate adults express themselves in one-word sentences ("bottle," "doggie") or in short phrases such as "Mommy open box"? Of course, it is easy to show that a copycat theory of language acquisition cannot explain these
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Why+Don’t+Babies+Talk+Like+Adults - Why...

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