Early Childhood Communication: The Two-Word Stage

Last week, we discussed the point in child-language development where the child begins to combine two words to create short, but meaningful sentences. Psychologist Roger Brown identified the unique grammar combinations that can be found during this phase, shedding light on how children use early language to communicate. However, one of the most interesting facets of early child language is its versatility. Even though the child is using only two words, those two words can vary in their content and meaning.

In one classic study, Lois Bloom noted that her daughter used the phrase “Mommy sock” to communicate two completely different ideas. On one occasion, the child picked up her mother’s sock that was lying on the floor, and said, “Mommy sock.” In this case, the child was communicating the idea of possession: “This is mommy’s sock.” Later, Bloom noted that her daughter used the phrase again, this time while Bloom was helping her get dressed and putting her daughter’s socks on. In this case, “Mommy sock” was likely being used to communicate, “Mommy is putting my sock on.” Conceivably, the same phrase could be used to communicate other ideas as well, such as “Mommy, look at the sock,” or “Mommy, give me my sock.”  

This ability to use a restricted set of words in multiple ways shows that young children often have a greater grasp of communication than their limited, telegraphic speech may imply. When listening to your child, pay attention to the different ways in which they use language to talk about the world around them. You may be surprised at how much they have to say.

Do you have a story about your child’s early language and communication? Share your experience in the comments section below!

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 (917) 841-2965 and find out how we can help your child communicate their best!

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