How Babies Talk

A popular press book.

Even before babies are born, nature and nurture are at work preparing them with the tools for mastering language. Almost magically, in the first three years of life, they learn to recognize words, decipher their meanings, put together sentences, and ask questions. Written by two experts in the field of language development, How Babies Talk explores how babes learn language, and the concrete ways in which parents and caregivers can help nurture these linguistic skills at every stage of their children’s development.


Organized chronologically, this comprehensive book begins with the unborn child, who can actually tell the difference between similar sounds, and continues with the newborn infant, who is already discovering methods of communication. By the age of four months, a baby has begun to accurately analyze speech for common sounds and patterns, and recognize his or her name. the baby between nine and twelve months is a mater of gesture and of asking wordless questions. The nineteen-month-old who puts two words together for the first time paves the way for the two-and-a-half-year-old, who speaks in full, often breathless paragraphs.


Each chapter contains a section called “Language Milestones” that explores the amazing things babies know at each age, as well as their hidden capabilities and what parents can do to develop them. “Scientific Sleuthing Pays Off” describes how parents can use the latest scientific findings to enhance everyday interactions and to provide the most effective learning environments for their children. This section also helps parents identify the problems to look for that may hinder language development. There are also fun and easy at-home experiments called “Try This” that enable parents to chart their children’s progress themselves and to further stimulate language-learning skills.


From the evolution of infant speech sounds to the toddler’s mastery of complex grammar, How Babies Talk is an important guide that will help parents help their children develop the wonderful gift of language.



“This splendid book is a godsend. How Babies Talk is a clear, engaging, and up-to-date guide, written by two of the leading researchers in the science of language acquisition. After reading this book, you will never hear children in the same way again.”

-STEVEN PINKER, professor of psychology, MIT, and author of The Language Instinct and How the Mind Work


“This easy-to-read book offers useful guidelines to spoken language development in the first three years.”

-MARIAN C. DIAMOND, professor, UC Berkeley, co-author of Magic Trees of the Mind: How to Nurture Your Child’s Intelligence, Creativity, and Healthy Emotions from Birth Through Adolescence


“The best book I’ve seen for parents on how to understand and nurture language development during the first three years of life. It provides a fascinating look into the linguistic genius of infants and offers practical ways for parents to get directly involved in a better understanding of their child’s use of language. An important guide to early learning.”

-THOMAS ARMSTRONG, Ph.D., author of Awakening Your Child’s Natural Genius and The Myth of the A.D.D. Child


“A reassuring and valuable tool for parents … Will help them appreciate their young children’s capabilities regardless of level and, in turn, enrich their language learning in appropriate ways.”

-JANET HOPSON, co-author of Magic Tree of the Mind


“This scientific study of children’s language yields a fascinating story, ehich the authors relate with artful completeness.”

-HOWARD GARDNER, Ph.D., professor of education, Harvard University and author of Extraordinary Minds


Other more technical books by same authors

This is a debate on lexical acquisition by some of the most prominent and influential psychologists in the area of language development. Each author provides, in the strongest possible terms, his or her own theory of language acquisition.
This book describes a theory of language learning that emphasizes the role of multiple cues and forces in development. It further shows how infants shift their reliance on different aspects of the linguistic input, moving from a bias to attend to prosodic information, and finally to a reliance on the syntax itself.

A hybrid view of word-learning, called the emergentist coalition theory, combines cognitive constraints, social-pragmatic factors, and global attentional mechanisms to arrive at a balanced account of how children construct principles of word learning. in twelve experiments, with children ranging from 12 to 25 months of age, data are described that support the emergentist coalition theory.