Cognitive Science Colloquium
Languages work using conventions that implicate discrete parts, such as speech sounds, words, and arrangements of words. Interpretation of speech requires us to make reference to these discrete parts.
How are the parts learned in development? The usual account is that language learning starts when young infants use their perceptual abilities to learn consonants and vowels, and that then, infants assemble words from these categories. I will make the case that this account is wrong, and that words---which infants begin to learn in their first months---are central to language acquisition right from the start.