Sociodemographic and Pre-Linguistic Factors in Early Vocabulary Acquisition

Here, we studied the beginnings of language development, jointly assessing two groups of precursors, sociodemographic and pre-linguistic, that have previously been studied separately. Thus, the general objective of this study was to explore which factors best explained the acquisition of initial expressive vocabulary. The sample consisted of 504 participants from Catalan-speaking homes with ages ranging between 10 and 18 months. The data were obtained through the MacArthur–Bates Communicative Development Inventories (MCB-CDIs). Vocabulary development shows a lexical spurt at 17 months. Regression analyses show that pre-linguistic factors have more explanatory power of than sociodemographic ones. Within the sociodemographic variables, age, birth order and birth weight explain part of the vocabulary variance. With respect to pre-linguistic variables, imitation, late gestures and phrase comprehension are predictors of the initial vocabulary acquisition. Specifically, imitation and late gestures were the pre-linguistic behaviours that made it possible to distinguish between children with higher and lower levels of vocabulary. We discussed these findings in relation to their relevance for language acquisition and for the early assessment of linguistic competence ​
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