Stages of Child Language Development: Caretaker Speech to Telegraphic Speech

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Caretaker Speech

- It is the characteristically simplified speech style adopted by someone who spends a lot of time interacting with a young child.

- Frequent questions, always with exaggerated intonation.

- It is characterized by simple sentence structures and frequent repetition.

- These simplified models serve as clues to the basic structural organization

Pre-language stages

Pre-linguistic sounds of very early stages are called ‘cooing’ and ‘babbling’

-3-10 months: 3 stages of sound production:

Cooingà first recognizable sounds: /k/ /g/ /i/ /u/.

Babblingà a number of different vowels, fricative consonants (/f/ /v/ /s/...) and nasal consonants (/m/ /n/...) and syllable type sounds (mu; da)

-By 9 months (babbling stage): recognizable intonation patterns in consonants and vowel combinations, By 10-11 months (standing position; late babbling stage


-12-18 months: children begin to produce recognizable single unit utterance.

- Single words terms are used to refer to everyday objects. Eg. Milk, cookie cat...

- The term ‘single-unit/form’ sometimes is preferred, since what the child utters is a single form functioning as a phrase or sentence. ‘What’s that?

- The child is not ready to put units in order to make sentences.


- It begins around 18-20 months

- Whit 2 years the child can produce a variety of combinations among words: baby, chair, mommy, cat, bad.

- The adult interpretation is very much tied to the context.

- The adult behaves as if communication is taking place

- The child is given feedback which usually confirms that the utterances ‘ worked’

- By the age of 2, the child will have a vocabulary of more than 50 words.


- Before MULTIPLE-WORD UTTERANCE STAGE we find characteristic strings of lexical morphemes in sentences such as ‘ Andrew want ball’

- The child has developed some sentence building capacity and can order the forms correctly.


- By 2 and a half, the child's vocabulary is expanding rapidly and he/she is initiating more talk. Between 2-3 years old, the child will begin producing a large number of utterances


Stage 1: simply adding a wh-form (where, who) to the beginning of the expression or utterance. Rising intonation towards the end: Where Kitty?Stage 2: more complex structured can be formed. Rising intonation strategy is used. More wh- forms are used: What book name? You want eat?Stage 3: Inversion of subject and verb has appeared, but the wh-forms do not always undergo the required inversion (especially in negatives): Can I have a piece? Will you help me? Why kitty can’t stand up?


Stage 1: ‘not’ or ‘no’ come at the beginning of any expression: no mitten, no fall.- Stage 2: additional negative forms ‘don’t’ ‘can’t’ are used. ‘No’ ‘Not’ are placed in front of the verb: You can’t dance. I don’t know. - Stage 3: incorporation of other auxiliary forms ‘ did’nt’ ‘won’t’ are used. Disappearance of the Stage 1 forms: I didn’t caught it. She won’t let go.

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