Early Childhood Communication: The Two-Word Stage

Over the past several blogs we’ve followed the course of child communication development, from early squeals and grunts through that long-awaited first word. Today, we’ll talk about the next significant phase of child language development: the two-word stage.

Usually at some point in the child’s second year, often around 18 months, they will start to combine two words together. As a child develops and is exposed to more language, they begin to realize that two-words together can express meaning that a single word along cannot, and they produce short, but meaningful phrases.

This type of speech is often called telegraphic speech, as it contains only the absolute necessary words, much like a telegraph message. In 1973, a psychologist named Roger Brown identified different types of two-word combinations, which encompassed the majority of children’s telegraphic speech. Some common types of word combinations for young children are:

Agent-Action: “Daddy play”, “Doggy bark”

Action-Object: “eat cookie”, “throw ball”

Agent-Object: “Mommy book”, “Daddy juice”

Action + Location: “go store”, “sit chair”

Entity + Location: “cup table”, “book floor”

Attributive: “big house”, “ball shiny”

Recurrence: “more cookie”, “play again”

Non-existence: “no ball”, “all-gone milk”

Are you concerned about your child’s speech or language development? At Speech Associates of New York, our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists provide in-home evaluations and therapy. Each of our professionals is trained in the assessment and treatment of a range of pediatric and adult speech, language and communication disorders. Call us today at 212-308-7725 and find out how we can help your child communicate their best!

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