How Communications Are Made - 2

Babies Use a Lot of Gestures

When a mother talks to her baby, the baby shows different body movements in response to the mother's spoken words, their rhythm and patterns. In other words, when a baby is moving a part of its body, there is a change in its movement according to the mother's voice rhythm and patterns. Responding to clauses of sentences spoken by mothers, babies lift their eyelids or lower their legs while breathing.

The mother, of course, moves parts of her body when she speaks to her baby. Furthermore, when her baby cries or babbles, the mother moves various parts of her body accordingly.

The mother speaks to her baby using various words while her baby responds in babbles or smiles if there is no words; they move their bodies, express themselves and communicate each other. Some of these body movements are so small that can be detected and analyzed only by film recordings.

In this way babies are synchronized with the rhythms of the mother's talk. This is called "entrainment" and is the most primitive tool of communication by human beings.

The mother and her baby combine their voices and body movements each other and exchange information; they are tuned in and integrated as a single human system. In this very moment they can communicate what they want to say and what they have in their minds. In a sense they share information. When the mother expressed information as words, the baby took them into the brain. This is supposed to be the first step of linguistic development.

How can babies and infants learn these complicated sentence structures? There must be programs to speak sentences in their brain, which may be switched the mother's talk because these are what they express by words.


Let's assume that a child, whose linguistic functions have not well developed yet, for example, says "meow, meow." He may be referring to a cat in his picture book and asking to open the book. Or he may be asking for a toy cat. He may be saying that there is a cat outside, looking out of the window. There may be various implications depending on the situations in his incomplete spoken words.

The mother can make an immediate judgment from the situation or the way of speaking of her child. Then she will respond by choosing appropriate conversations or sentences on her own judgment of the common information shared. In this process the child learn the words corresponding to the sentences that were constructed in his mind. He builds up sentences and develops his linguistic ability.
The mother uses a unique pattern of sentences, rhythm, intonation and pitch when she talks to her child. These sentences and ways of talking are not used in conversations between adults. This is what we call "motherese". In this way children learn important sentence structures every time they come across specific situations.

Linguistic ability develops not only by imitating and memorizing the language or words of mothers. Not only voice but also body movements and phonetic symbols like words and babbling that are in the child's mind are understood and immediately responded by the mother; she gives a feedback to her child by building up sentences and the child learns this. In this process not only contents of the spoken words but also sensitive information such as rhythm, intonation and pitch is important other than logical information of meaning.

Kobayashi, Noboru (1981). "Communication ha Koushite - 2" (written in Japanese). Tokyo: Child Research Net. Retrieved Oct. 8, 2004, from the World Wide Web
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