A new study shows that little kids might understand complex grammar much earlier than we thought.
"Studies have suggested that children between the ages of 2 and 3 start to build their understanding of grammar gradually from watching and listening to people," study researcher Caroline Rowland of the University of Liverpool's Child Language Study Center said in a statement. "More recent research, however, has suggested that even at 21 months, infants are sensitive to the different meanings produced by particular grammatical construction, even if they can't articulate words properly."
This is absolutely fascinating! This is how they tested it:
Rowland and her colleagues showed a group of 2-year-olds pictures of a cartoon rabbit and duck and asked each toddler to match the illustrations to sentences containing made-up verbs.
"One picture was the rabbit acting on the duck, lifting the duck's leg, for example, and the other was an image of the animals acting independently, such as swinging a leg," Rowland said. "We then played sentences with made-up verbs — the rabbit is glorping the duck — over a loudspeaker and asked them to point to the correct picture. They picked out the correct image more often than we would expect them to by chance."
It also means that children are scary smart, and that maybe we shouldn't dumb down how we talk to them as much as we do. Baby talk is pretty annoying sometimes!
[Image via AP Images.]