From the Mouths of Babes and Birds
Babies learn to speak months after they begin to understand language. As they are learning to talk, they babble, repeating the same syllable (â€œda-da-daâ€) or combining syllables into a string (â€œda-do-da-doâ€).
But when babies babble, what are they actually doing? And why does it take them so long to begin speaking?
Insights into these mysteries of human language acquisition are now coming from a surprising source: songbirds.
Researchers who focus on infant language and those who specialize in birdsong have teamed up in a new study suggesting that learning the transitions between syllables â€” from â€œdaâ€ to â€œdoâ€ and â€œdoâ€ to â€œdaâ€ â€” is the crucial bottleneck between babbling and speaking.