From birth to 19 years the language and communication capacity of a human being change immeasurably. From initial random sounds and gestures, children infer the repertoire of meaningful sounds in their native language and construct all the grammatical rules and exceptions they need to communicate with those around them.
As well as the verbal aspects of language, they learn non-verbal elements, such as gesture, facial expression and posture, together with ‘paralanguage’, for example, intonation and rate of speech. But it is not enough to know the mechanics of communication. As children mature they learn to adapt their manner of speech according to their audience and the pragmatic expectations of society. They begin to ‘play’ with language, making use of figurative expressions, idiom and puns, and they construct increasingly complex sentence structures.
In school they are introduced to different types of discourse and varied spoken registers, which encourage them to expand their vocabulary and language ability even further. For the ‘typical’ child this language development occurs without difficulty driven by the innate desire human beings have to communicate.
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