LINGUIST List 13.2512

Wed Oct 2 2002

Media: NYT: The Deeper Meaning of Babbling

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. Karen S. Chung, NYT: The deeper meaning of babbling

Message 1: NYT: The deeper meaning of babbling

Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2002 19:58:17 +0800
From: Karen S. Chung <>
Subject: NYT: The deeper meaning of babbling

 The October 1, 2002 online edition of the _New York Times_ has an
article entitled "Seeking Deeper Meaning in the Babbling of Babies". A few
sample paragraphs:

 An 11-month-old baby, her face spattered with food and her lips wet with
drool, pushes her chin toward the camera and says, "Da da da da da" in a
soft singsong voice.
 A few seconds later, though, the picture freezes and a small grid
appears, superimposed over the baby's mouth. Look carefully and the lines
enable you to see that as the baby babbles, her mouth opens wider on the
right side than on the left. Suddenly, what was merely cute becomes
scientifically interesting.
 If the baby babbles mainly on the right, the researchers say, it means
that babbling is a form of language.
 ...But many experts argue that language is not hard-wired into the
brain. Babies are not born with language, these scientists say, but rather
learn language as they grow, making use of the brain's capacity for complex
tasks, the tongue's ability to articulate and the instinct for
socialization. Through imitation and practice, they learn to speak and
understand the language they hear.

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 Karen Steffen Chung

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