From babble to words: Infants’ early productions match words and objects in their environment
Infants’ early babbling allows them to engage in proto-conversations with caretakers, well before clearly articulated, meaningful words are part of their productive lexicon. Moreover, the well-rehearsed sounds from babble serve as a perceptual ‘filter’, drawing infants’ attention towards words that match the sounds they can reliably produce. Using naturalistic home recordings of 44 10-11-month-olds (an age with high variability in early speech sound production), this study tests whether infants’ early consonant productions match words and objects in their environment. We find that infants’ babble matches the consonants produced in their caregivers’ speech. Infants with a well-established consonant repertoire also match their babble to objects in their environment. Our findings show that infants’ early consonant productions are shaped by their input: by 10 months, the sounds of babble match what infants see and hear.
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