Episode 4: Learning to Talk

How do babies learn how to talk? In this episode I explore how they go from little howling machines to little sentence builders in the space of a couple of years.

*** 

Get in touch @accentricitypod on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook if you’d like to chat some more about baby talk!

If you would like to take the Wug test (or test the tiny people in your life), I’ve done a blog post it which allows you to do so here. Remember that it’s not a test of intelligence! It tests a kid’s stage of linguistic development, and also their willingness to play along with the weird world of adults.

In this particular episode, I’m focusing on the stories of kids who are acquiring spoken language, and who are moving towards communicating in the same kind of way as I am now. Of course kids are much more diverse than this. Not everyone learns to talk, and some people develop communication strategies which involve single words or sounds, rather than phrases or sentences. Some people learn to speak using sign languages, and in these cases the story is in some ways similar to this one, and in other ways quite different. This episode is just about one of the many ways of growing up and learning language. I hope to visit some of the other ways in later episodes.

***

The contributors: 

* Harris, aged 2 months. Thanks to mum Angie and dad Braxton.

* Mila, aged 8 months. Thanks to mum Nichola.

* Connie, aged 1 year. Thanks to mum Kat, dad Andrew and gran Sheila.

* Martha, aged 1 and a half. Thanks to mum Jennie and dad Euan.

* Kira, aged 2 and a half. Thanks to mum Joanna.

* Emilie, aged 3 and a half. Thanks to mum Jenn.

* Ronan, aged 4. Thanks to mum Lynsey.

***

Thanks to all of the people who volunteered to help out, and sorry that I didn’t get to speak to all of you! Thanks to Cat, Anna, Tanya and Shiona for volunteering your kids, and to Katy, Rebecca and Jenny for volunteering the kids of friends and family.

***

Thanks to Professor Jennifer Smith of the University of Glasgow for help with the content. Jennifer Smith is Professor of Sociolinguistics at the University of Glasgow. At the moment she’s working on two big research projects: One Speaker Two Dialects and The Scots Syntax Atlas. You can find more information about her research and publications here.

***

A million thankyous to all of the new patrons of the podcast! Chris Rodger, Osh Kealy, Daidhidh Eyre, Scott Hames and Sam Wrigglesworth via Patreon, and Rachel Smith and Hilary Stewart via the 'donate' button on the website. All money raised will go towards making a second series of the podcast.

If you’d like to support this podcast financially, click here or here. If you have enthusiasm but not cold hard cash, tell a pal about it, or gies a wee rating and review. These things are just as helpful!

***

Big big thanks to John McDiarmid for production support. John is a freelance radio producer, documentarian and journalist. You can find his company on Instagram @teltmedia. He recently finished his first feature-length documentary, St Mungo’s Approval

Big big thanks too to Seb Philp for the music. He doesn’t have a website, but if you’d like to talk to him, send me a message!