Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »
Of all the young child’s startling accomplishments, none is more impressive and mysterious than his entrance into the world of language. In this book, Peter and Jill de Villiers provide a lucid and entertaining account of the child’s remarkable linguistic journey.
By means of amusing and informative examples, the authors describe how language acquisition happens. As children develop from birth to school age, they gradually master the intricacies of sounds, words, rules, and concepts. Eventually, an awareness of language itself dawns, bringing with it the ability to communicate about things and ideas beyond the here-and-now. Naturally, not all children learn at the same rate; the de Villiers discuss the various physical and intellectual constraints upon learning, including the implications of such conditions as deafness, dysphasia, and autism.
Throughout their discussions, the de Villiers demonstrate that the key to understanding the acquisition of language lies in the child’s striking linguistic inventions and systematic errors. A child is unlikely to hear any adult say “ephelant” or “his is gooder than mine,” nor will a parent call the mailman “Daddy.” But children commonly say all these things and what they say reveals a great deal about the learning process. Early Language is a book that is full of children talking and anyone who reads it is bound to come away with an enriched understanding of what children’s talk is all about.