Characterization of children's verbal input in a forager-farmer population using long-form audio recordings and diverse input definitions

Camila Scaff, Marisa Casillas, Jonathan Stieglitz et Alejandrina Cristia


There is little systematically collected quantitative empirical data on how much linguistic input children in small-scale societies encounter, with some estimates suggesting low levels of directed speech. We report on an ecologically-valid analysis of speech experienced over the course of a day by young children (N = 24, 6–58 months old, 33% female) in a forager-horticulturalist population of lowland Bolivia. A permissive definition of input (i.e., including overlapping, background, and non-linguistic vocalizations) leads to massive changes in terms of input quantity, including a quadrupling of the estimate for overall input compared to a restrictive definition (only near and clear speech), while who talked to and around a focal child is relatively stable across input definitions. We discuss implications of these results for theoretical and empirical research into language acquisition.

Publié dans

Infancy, vol. 29, n° 2, mars 2024, p. 196–215