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Language is a robust developmental phenomenon, characterised by rapid and prodigious growth and change in the first 3 years of life. It is a universal capability that is acquired effortlessly by most children. Adult input is essential to acquiring language so that children learn the languages spoken to them. Predictable milestones observed in early language development are the onset of first words followed by combining single words in simple sentences. Across cultures, child rearing practices and childhood experiences suggest that powerful neurodevelopmental mechanisms guide the onset and timing of these milestones.
Competing interests None.