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Language

While many feel that language acquisition begins with children’s production of their first word, language development actually begins much earlier. Indeed, children begin to develop the language or languages in their ambient environment even before birth. To illustrate, despite the noises of their mother’s heartbeat, digestion, and blood flow, children hear their mother and others speaking and begin to tune in to the cadence of the spoken languages and discern regularities in the intonation and stress patterns that characterize the languages and mark word, phrase, and sentence boundaries. Narrow definitions of language might exclude prosodic features such as intonation and stress, yet consider how the pragmatic intent of a message changes when a person says the phrase “the cat” with rising versus falling intonation; with ...

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