In my first article on NLP and language I told you that this topic would be comprehensive enough to its own chapter! After all, NLP has the linguistic part in its name: Neuro-Linguistic Programming. So here’s another perspective on language. In addition, this entry could fit into the UnLearning Difficulties category of this NLP blog as easily as it does into the one of Life Coaching and NLP since many learning difficulties revolve around language…
We all come into the world equipped with linguistic skills. Children acquire language in stages. From birth babies make noises. By 4 months they can read lips and discriminate speech sounds. They also begin babbling. Why is babbling important? In his book The Language Instinct Steven Pinker offers this perspective:
The infant is like a person who has been given a complicated piece of audio equipment bristling with unlabelled knobs and switches, but missing the instructions manual. In such situation people resort to what hackers call frobbing – fiddling with the controls to see what happens. By listening to their own babbling babies in effect “write their own manual”; they learn how much to move which muscle in which way to make which sound. This is a prerequisite for duplicating the speech of their parents.
There is some fascinating evidence to support this view. Each infant produces sounds that are truly universal, including sounds which will not be required in some languages. If you listen to this early babbling, you won’t be able to tell whether the infant is German, Canadian, Ghanaian, or Chinese. But by 10 months of the infant’s age you will be able to tell, because the telltale sounds and intonations of the language of the household have now become predominant. And yes, deaf infants also babble!
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