Precursors to language and early language

Carolyn B. Mervis and Angela E. John

in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Across the Lifespan

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199594818
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738166 | DOI:

Series: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Precursors to language and early language

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This chapter focuses on precursors to language acquisition and the acquisition of language by toddlers, preschool children, and early primary-school children who have Williams syndrome (WS). It begins by briefly summarizing the findings from research on the intellectual abilities of toddlers and young children with WS as measured by performance on standardised assessments. It then describes the findings from research on the early language phenotype of WS, focusing on results related to prelinguistic and early language development in the areas of vocabulary (lexicon), grammar, and pragmatics. Two central themes emerge. First, despite the initial claims regarding the independence of language from cognition, WS provides strong evidence for their interdependence throughout development. Second, there is considerable continuity in the pattern of strengths and weaknesses across development, with the adult pattern apparent in early childhood.

Keywords: language acquisition; language development; Williams syndrome; vocabulary; grammar; pragmatics; cognition

Chapter.  9082 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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