Bénédicte de Boysson-Bardies

How Does the Power of Speech Come to Children ? Publication date : April 1, 1996

We rejoice, delight and thrill at a child's first words. And the first cry, first babble, first syllable and sentence seem to come so naturally! In fact, so natural does it seem that we often forget to wonder how the newborn, from his cradle, perceives the sounds that make up words? How does he hear and extract sounds, and then recognize, organize and analyze them? How does an infant come to understand and reproduce language? How does the power of speech come to children? Benedicte de Boysson Bardies invites the reader to follow the newborn from his first minute of life to his first sentence, retracing step by step the process of acquiring speech. Drawing upon an elaborate, in depth experimental approach, the author presents the first complete picture of our current knowledge about infants and how language is learned. Thanks to the Benedicte de Boysson Bardies' comprehensive research, parents may uncover the answers to some of their most pressing questions, such as whether they should speak to their baby in a certain way and whether it is a cause for concern if a 20 month old has not yet begun to speak. Readers will also discover the reasons for many linguistic facts, such as why French children are the only ones to include "encore" ("more") among their first words, why three year olds insist on saying "Obelisk" instead of "Obelix" and above all how a powerful inner mechanism grants us, alone among all living species, the miracle of speech.

As a psycholinguist, Benedicte de Boysson Bardies specializes in the acquisition of language by young children. A director of research at CNRS, she directs studies on spoken and body language at the experimental psychology laboratory at the University of Paris V.