Is Babbling a Part of Language Acquisition, or Is It Simply ‘Mouth Play’?

RSIs babbling a part of language acquisition, or is it simply ‘mouth play’?
This paper aims to investigate the relationship between babbling and early words by raising the following question; is babbling a part of language acquisition, or is it simply ‘mouth play’?   To instigate this discussion, this paper will first present the theory which proposes the notion of a ‘discontinuity’ between babbling and early speech. Following this, three further approaches will be introduced which all give notion to a ‘continuity’ between babbling and speech; a continuity approach, an acquisition approach, and a biological maturational approach.
Babbling can be defined as a stage that occurs in a child’s development. It can be characterized as a succession of consonant-vowel syllables that carry no semantic meaning. The onset of babbling usually begins around the age of 5-7 months. Moreover, first words often become distinguishable by around 12 months of age (Goldstein:2008).
In order to investigate whether, or not, babbling does functions as a precursor to the phonological development of speech? We must first begin with Jackobson’s (1941/1968) discontinuity hypothesis. This theory is formalized on the grounds that there is no continuing relationship between babbling and early words. In Jackobson’s study, acknowledgement is given to a phonemic parallelism between babbling and early words. However, it is insisted that the sounds infants produce in babbling are completely random in relation to the sounds they produce in early speech. Although Jackobson insists that babbling is phonetically random, he believed that this is because babbling patterns operate progressively under a sonority sequencing principle (Selkirk:1984). He goes on to stipulates that the consonants produced in an infant’s pre-linguistic inventory are those that maximize perceptual contrast with the nucleus of the syllable. Furthermore, Jackobson postulates that a silent period possibly occurs between the...