Children's speech more advanced than presumed

A new research conducted by Newcastle University has revealed that children may actually have a more sophisticated and developed speech than originally presumed.

The study, led by Dr. Cristina Dye, a lecturer of child language development, involved careful study of toddlers aged between 23 and 37 months, all of them speaking French.

Dr. Dye closely monitored these toddlers and captured over 10 thousands of their little utterances. For this, she and her team made use of advanced recording technology including ultra-sensitive hidden microphones that were placed close to the children to capture every sound and word they uttered out.

A detailed analysis of these sounds found that the children seemed to be using grammar more earlier than expected.

"Many of the toddlers we studied made a small sound, a soft breath, or a pause, at exactly the place that a grammatical word would normally be uttered," Dr. Dye explained.

"The fact that this sound was always produced in the correct place in the sentence leads us to believe that young children are knowledgeable of grammatical words. They are far more sophisticated in their grammatical competence than we ever understood."

Though this study solely considered French to evaluate the use of grammar and speech development in children, the findings would be relevant to even more languages, Dr. Dye said.

The study has definitely shunned down a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding children's speech that had been prevailing through the decades, mostly the belief that children's speech is devoid of grammar.

"The research sheds light on a really important part of a child's development. Language is one of the things that makes us human and understanding how we acquire it shows just how amazing children are," Dr. Dye added.

"There are also implications for understanding language delay in children. When children don't learn to speak normally it can lead to serious issues later in life. For example, those who have it are more likely to suffer from mental illness or be unemployed later in life. If we can understand what is 'normal' as early as possible then we can intervene sooner to help those children."

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