Chapter 7 - Toddlerhood

What major language development milestones occur in toddlerhood?

-First words

AT what age do most toddlers generate their first word?

12 months

Characteristics of a word

-Composed of meaningful sound

Lexical entries

series of symbols that comprise the word, sound of the word, meaning of the word, and word's part of speech

3 criteria for a true word

-Produce the word with clear intention and purpose
-Recognizable pronunciation
-Used consistently and extends beyond the original context

Phonetically consistent forms (PCFs)

idiosyncratic word-like productions that children use consistently and meaningfully, but do not approximate adult forms
(ex: "ahhhh" for "water

Gestures proceed spoken language


Referential gestures

precise referent and stable meaning across different context (ex: holding fist to ear to indicate a telephone)

Mirror neurons

Visuomotor neurons - vision and motor movement.

Customary age of production

50& of children are able to produce a given sound in an adult-like way in multiple positions

Age of mastery

Majority of children produce a sound in an adult-like manner

Phonological processes

systematic and rule-governed speech patterns that characterize a toddler's speech

syllable structure changes

changes to syllables in words
ex: "daddy" becomes "da-da


change one sound in a syllable so that it takes on the features of another sound in that same syllable
ex: "dog" becomes "gog

Place of articulation changes

replace a sound that is produced at one location in the mouth with a sound that is produced at a different location in the mouth
ex: fronting


replace sounds produced farther back in the mouth with sounds produced farther forward in the mouth
ex: "tat" for "cat" or "doat" for "goat

manner of articulation changes

replace a sound produced in a particular manner with a sound produced in a different manner
ex: "tip" for "chip

Novel neighbors

new words that are phonologically similar to known words

Novel non-neighbors

new words that are not phonologically similar to known words


Meaningful linguistic unit that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful units

Grammatical morpheme

inflections added to words to indicate aspects of grammar

Two-word stage

combining words to make longer utterances

Mean length of utterance (MLU)

average length in, morphemes, of children's utterances
-number of morphemes divided by the total number of utterances

Telegraphic quality

omit key grammatical markers
ex: "I go store", "Me drink juice

Receptive lexicon

words that children comprehend

Expressive lexicon

words that children produce

Vocabulary spurt

Typically occurs between 18-24 months of age, or around the time they are able to produce 50 words. A child learns an average of 9 new words a day.


children who use a word in an overly general manner

3 types of over-extension


Categorical over-extension

extend a known word to other words in the same category
ex: calling all animals doggie

Analogical over-extension

extend a known word to other words that are perceptually similar
ex: calling all round objects a ball

Relational over-extension

extend a known word to other words that are semantically or thematically related
ex: use the word "bath" for "soap" or "washcloth


use words to refer only to a subset of possible referents
ex: will only refer to a baseball as a ball, but no other ball as a ball

Over-extension is more common than under-extension in the toddler years



Overextend in some circumstances and under-extend in others
ex: calling your dog & your neighbors cat a doggie, but not calling other dogs a doggie

3 possible explanations for over-extension, under-extension & overlap

-Category membership
-Pragmatic error
-Retrieval error

Quinean Conundrum

Uncertainty surrounding mapping words to their referents in the face of seemingly limitless interpretations

Lexical principles for early object labels

Tier One
Tier Two

Tier One principles (3)

-Principle of reference
-Principle of extendability
-Principle of object scope

Principle of reference

words symbolize objects, actions, events and concepts
ex: "book" symbolizes an object with pages, pictures & words

Principle of extendability

label categories of objects and not just the original exemplar
ex: "ball" can be used to describe a baseball, football, golf ball, etc.

Principle of object scope

words map to whole objects
ex: the word "Bison" labels the full animal, not just a part of the animal

Second Tier principles (3)

-Principle of conventionality
-Principle of categorical scope
-Principle of novel name-nameless category (N3C)

Principle of conventionality

adopt the terms that people in their language community understand
ex: stop using "da-da" & "wa-wa" and start using "daddy" and "water

Principle of categorical scope

limiting the basis for extension to words that are taxonomically similar
ex: picking out a picture of grapes, over pictures of other non-food objects, because they are categorically similar to the first picture of a banana

Principle of novel name-nameless category (N3C)

select a nameless object as the recipient of a novel label. Use of mutual exclusivity or process of elimination
ex: you show a toddler two familiar items and one nameless item and then you ask them to pick out the item that is a word they have never heard

Fast mapping

learn novel words with just a few incidental exposures


entity that performs the action
ex: "Michael flew a kite" -- "Michael" is the agent


entity undergoing an action or movement
ex: "Michael flew a kite" -- "Kite" is the theme


starting point for movement
ex: "I rode my bike from my house to the park", "my house" is the source


ending point for movement
ex: "I rode my bike from my house to the park", "the park" is the goal


place where action occurs
ex: "Michael flew a kite at the park", "the park" is the location

Instrumental functions

satisfy their needs
ex: requests -- "juice please

Regulatory functions

control others' behavior
ex: "come here

Personal interaction functions

share information about themselves and their feelings with others
ex: "I sad

Heuristic functions

requesting information from others to learn about the world
ex: "What that?

Imaginative functions

telling stories to make believe and pretend
"I'm a princess

Informative functions

give information to others
"My name is Kate

3 key conversation skills

-Initiate a conversation topic
-Sustain that topic for several turns
-Appropriately take leave of the conversation

Toddler's have difficulty in keeping their audience's needs in mind


Language development is linear

False. Children tend to experience a series of spurts & plateaus in language development

Boys produce a greater number of words that girls in toddlerhood

False. Girls produce more than boys.

Differences in maturation rates, particularly with respect to neurological development, contribute to gender differences in language acquisition


Parents interact differently with boys and girls


Children's language development is not affected by birth order

False. Firstborn children are more likely to have larger vocabularies than their later-born counterparts.

SES is associated with toddlers' receptive and expressive language development


Methods for assessing children's language (3)

-Production tasks
-Comprehension tasks
-Judgement tasks

Production tasks

Children produce or say the language targets under investigation

Comprehension tasks

Children match pictures to target words and phrases or act out phrases that they hear

Judgement tasks

Children decide whether certain language constructions are felicitous in order to understand their level of grammatical competence

Three assessment purposes

-Comprehensive evaluation
-Progress monitoring


Quick and efficient was to determine whether a child is experiencing difficulty in a particular area by comparing the child to common language milestones. Used to determine whether the child needs a more comprehensive evaluation

Comprehensive evaluation

Structured, standardized norm-referenced evaluation, given to only one child at a time, to determine whether a child has a language disorder

Ecological validity

extent to which the data resulting from an evaluation can be extended to multiple contexts, including the child's home

Progress monitoring

Instruments that are administered multiple times to measure and monitor a child's progress in a certain area of language development