The conquest of language

Several weeks or even months have passed, from the time babies use their index finger to give or point to an object until they are able to name it. That first point is a manifestation of your awareness and understanding. Weeks later, they use the signs as a means of communication. “Mommy is there,” it seems they mean when they point.

By the age of two, some children use pointing as a kind of strategy for communicating quantities versus quantifying questions when they have not yet met any number word. Later, at around 3 years of age, they can observe how they place their index at a certain distance from the objects, pointing at them one by one – or even touching them – sequentially, as a way of indicating that there are “several” objects. With the appearance of language, they will perform the same actions, accompanying each sign with numerical words that state in order or in disorder: “one, three, and five”. These short counts show your ability to establish, name, and communicate quantities using pointers as gauges between number words and objects that count.

After the time of the alternation in the “conversation turns” between the caregiver-baby, such as pauses in sucking when they are feeding and the adults speak to them; after the exchanges of glances in which, together with the caregiver, they focus their attention on an interesting object or event and the turns of conversation in which the caregivers lend their voices, between the first and second year of life, the first words. At some point in the process of signs that they use to communicate, they begin to name the objects and they will no longer only use the actions to act in the world, but little by little they will do it with language. It is they who start the ‘conversation’, who take the initiative and invite the adult. Here we see a ‘do’ and ‘know-how’ that gradually becomes a ‘power to do’.

Of course, language does not arise at a single moment, nor with those first words. Language is a process that has been brewing for some time and is articulated with the communicative and social context. However, it cannot be denied that the use of the first words by children constitutes a transcendental space, especially when the mother or caregivers are fortunate to be the first to hear them and to be there when they pronounce them.

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