Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
When infants begin babbling, the first sounds after vowels are usually
the stops. First of those are the labials. Because they are very
productive in world languages, [b], [p], and [d] are usually the first. In
Greek, [b] and [d] are infrequent phones. In fact, there are no letters
for these phones; instead, combinations are made: μπ for [b] and ντ
for [d]. Does this mean, then, that Greek babies, when they begin
babbling, do not begin with the sounds [b] and [d]? And if they do, is
that just further proof that much of language acquisition is innate and
there is some sort of Universal Grammar?
You might like to look at a book about language acquisition. I recommend:
Clark, Eve. 2009. First Language Acqusition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Very small babies usually start to babble with open vowels and labial consonants, because their mouths have not get learnt to do much. As they get older, they babble with a wider range of sounds, including ones not used in the languages being spoken around them. By the age of 6 months (or sooner), there are differences between the babble of babies depending on what language(s) they are exposed to.
I do not know what you mean by 'further proof'. The notion of innateness and of Universal Grammar is a controversial one, and the discussion around it is complex.
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