"Recognition drives segmentation of the speech stream, and segmentation is a critical step in learning a language," Bortfeld explains. "We know from previous research that babies are recognizing their names in fluent speech by the age of six months, so we hypothesized that they should be able to use that recognition to segment the speech stream and recognize new words."
Much in the same way a person might have difficulty understanding a foreign language because it's hard to tell where one word starts and another begins, babies face a similar challenge in learning language. Bortfeld's research shows babies can begin to discern the beginnings and endings of words that follow their names, meaning their names form a foundation for learning language.
In what can be described as a "popping out" pattern, Bortfeld explains, one familiar word can allow a baby to pick out another word, and that newly familiar word may allow a baby to learn words that follow it.
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