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Learning to Speak
word. The problem, of course, is that there is no “moment” nant-vowel-consonant-vowel (CVCV), like “mama.” The
but instead a period where words begin to emerge that can pattern to produce “Fiona,” CVVCV, is much more complex.
easily be confused with productions that are not real words. Faced Wm‘ the Challenge of her own name in mess early
Between 9 and 16 months of age, fewer than 10% of vocaliza- . . . . ..
_ “ __ _ _ _ _ two-word combinations, Fiona substituted the word Sah-
tions are true words, based on criteria including whether .,, h. h . an d d h h I d bl
_ _ _ _ mi,wic capit ze onsounstatsewasareaya e
the production is used multiple times, whether the mother to Produce us,» um,» and the two Vowel sounds‘ As different
identifies it as a word, if there is similarity to the adult form, . l .
_ _ _ _ _ as it seems from the adult target, it preserved many of the
and not using the vocalization in other contexts (Vihman . . .. » u . »
_ “ ” _ target elements, including the ah, from the end of Fiona,
and McCune, 1994). For instance, ba could be considered .. ,, . . .
the ee sound (although not in the accurate position), the
a true word if used regularly to represent a single concept nasality of-the an» bu‘ reduced as an um» and the sibflmce
(e.g., to refer to bottles but not other things), if mom recog- .. P .. ,, )

_ _ _ of the f,” produced as an s. It also fit her template of CVCV,
nizes it as the word the child uses to refer to the concept, and much Sim [er ‘hm what was re “ind b the tar at form
if it is produced similarly from instance to instance. A candi- Im P . q  . g . I

_ “ ” portantly, Fiona was able to produce this version consis-
date firs‘ word for Fiona early on would have been mama’ tentl so that those in her environment were able to learn
which she seemed to use to refer to me, but she also vocal- she ‘fled it ‘D refer to herself
ized “mama” in numerous other contexts and as a common- ‘
ly used babbling string. With these‘ stringent criteria, Fiona Predictable Errnra an “he
did not produce any true words until around 18 months. She Road to Nlaatary
soon started combining words, which allowed her to catch vvnhout the Come“ of decades of developmental Phon°l_
up with the verbal achievements of typical peers. ogy research) Fiona caning herself usahmi» migh‘ seem like
As those words and phrases started to come together, Fiona a quirk Instead, this was a predictable occurrence, similar to
began expressing her ideas. At 18 to 24 months of age, the the child-specific phonological factors accounted for by the
typical 2-word combination will be i.n the form of agent + ac- A-Map model (McAllister Byim et a.l., 2016). According to
tion. Given the egocentricity of toddlers at this stage, many of this model, both developing children and adults balance the
these combinations refer to the toddler itself, a.nd it is com- pressures of producing the accurate form of a speech sound or
mon for children at this age to refer to themselves in the third unit with producing the sound or unit in way that is achiev-
person. For Fiona, then, the typical phrase might be “Fiona able (i.e., to be precise). This accurate/precise tradeoff pro-
jump.” Recall, though, that the toddler must work with a still- vides a simple explanation of the way that children speak in
maturing speech motor control system, balancing the desire the toddler and preschoolyears. In the case of “Sahmi,” Fiona’s
to be understood with the inability to truly mimic the adult system recognized that her attempts to realize the adult target
forms of words. Early words, limited by the motor constraints would, by necessity, be inaccurate and unintelligible because
of development, tend to exclude sounds, forms, or complexi- of the motoric limitations of her system. She weighted the tar-
ties that the immature speech motor system has yet to acquire. get map on the side of precision rather than accuracy to im-
iii the face of a burgeoning vocabulary and desperate desire prove her ability to be understood by those around her. Her
to express herself, the young talker will, instead, modify the solution to the precision/accuracy tradeoff was very unique,
adult form of a production to fit the “templates” that it has but pervasive individual variability is common at this stage of
already mastered (e.g., Majorano et a.l., 2014). development. At the same time, the errors that are produced
Fiona’s name requires an incredible amount of control and at these early 593“? are Pr“_““C_t“b1e acres“ Chufirm’ Wm” 5”“-

. . reotyped substitutions, omissions, a.nd distortions of certain
coordination to produce. For example, because of the lack of _
. . target sounds being common. Speech sounds that emerge lat-
independent control for the lower and upper lip at two years _ Chfldh d ljk th “ M ” d“ __ _ d d
of age, the adult version of the “f” sound was not possible. ““ m 00 ‘ d enksar’ k’ “n L are typmally Pm “Ce
To achieve this sound, the lower lip is curled back sufficient- m Hm“ (Rose an I S‘ 2011”
ly for the upper teeth to approximate it while an airstream How, then, did Fiona go from referring to herself as “Sah-
is directed through the small opening. Furthermore, most mi” to “Fiona” in the course of a year? More precisely, how
children have difliculty combining multiple gestures into a does speech production evolve as the child eliminates the
single sequence, as in the two vowels inthe middle of Fiona’s constraints imposed by an immature speech motor control
name. Fiona’s typical productions at this stage went conso- system? As she said, she had to “just keep trying.” The trying
44 1 AI:i:iuI:lr:I Tbday 1 mi 2013

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