Day by day, hour by hour: Naturalistic language input to infants.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Measurements of infants' quotidian experiences provide critical information about early development. However, the role of sampling methods in providing these measurements is rarely examined. Here we directly compare language input from hour-long video-recordings and daylong audio-recordings within the same group of 44 infants at 6 and 7 months. We compared 12 measures of language quantity and lexical diversity, talker variability, utterance-type, and object presence, finding moderate correlations across recording-types. However, video-recordings generally featured far denser noun input across these measures compared to the daylong audio-recordings, more akin to 'peak' audio hours (though not as high in talkers and word-types). Although audio-recordings captured ~10 times more awake-time than videos, the noun input in them was only 2-4 times greater. Notably, whether we compared videos to daylong audio-recordings or peak audio times, videos featured relatively fewer declaratives and more questions; furthermore, the most common video-recorded nouns were less consistent across families than the top audio-recording nouns were. Thus, hour-long videos and daylong audio-recordings revealed fairly divergent pictures of the language infants hear and learn from in their daily lives. We suggest that short video-recordings provide a dense and somewhat different sample of infants' language experiences, rather than a typical one, and should be used cautiously for extrapolation about common words, talkers, utterance-types, and contexts at larger timescales. If theories of language development are to be held accountable to 'facts on the ground' from observational data, greater care is needed to unpack the ramifications of sampling methods of early language input.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bergelson, E; Amatuni, A; Dailey, S; Koorathota, S; Tor, S

Published Date

  • January 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 22 / 1

Start / End Page

  • e12715 -

PubMed ID

  • 30094888

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6294661

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-7687

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1363-755X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/desc.12715


  • eng