ABR (auditory brain stem response): used to determine hearing loss,especially in newborns

Adjective: grammatical category that describes a noun (cute, yellow, small, etc.)

Adverb: grammatical category that describes a verb (slowly, fast, etc.)

American Sign Language (ASL): a language which uses hand & arm movements to communicate meaning

Auditory comprehension: understanding what has been said (in contrast to hearing which focuses on environmental or speech sounds vs. content of speech)

Auditory processing: theoretical idea that attempts to explain how language sounds and meaning are processed or understood

Automatic: reactive reply that usually implies a reflexive reply

Babbling: play with the sounds (not necessarily limited to the child’s language)

Bidirectional: an associative relationship that is in either direction (as A increases so does B, as B increases so does A)

Closure: ending a topic or conversation; finishing a sentence or question for a speaker because the topic is well known

Cognition: another term for thinking skills which is in contrast to language skills

Cognitive development: the progression of thinking skills which is reflected in either motor or verbal behavior such as reflexive motor responses, imitative responses, then concrete sorting of objects, and finally to more abstract verbal skills which involve logic or analysis

Cooing: simple vowel sounds that an infant makes

Comprehension: understanding what is said or written Consonants: b, c, d, f, g, etc.

Correlation: an association of 2 behaviors that can be positive or rise together (when we put on weight, we often sit around more) or be negative (as one behavior increases, the other decreases: when we put on weight, we exercise less)

Echolalia: verbatim repetition of what has been said, often found in children with a diagnosis of autism and considered to be an atypical behavior

Eye contact: the focused gaze of a listener or a speaker to their communicative partner. Different cultures use different levels of eye gaze. Poor eye contact is associated with children with autism

Expressive skills: verbal output for either phonology, semantics, and syntax

Hearing: ability to take in both speech and non-speech sounds (environmental, such as a train whistle) in contrast to comprehension which entails understanding of the content or meaning of a message

Gestures: use of hand, arm or head to indicate a particular message

Grammar: sequence of words in a sentence and correct morphological endings (see morphology)

Imitates: copies someone’s behavior

Initiates: starts a behavior

Intonation: the melody of a language or its overall patterns of stress with its usage turning a statement into a question (You’re going?)

Inverted question: change of word order from a statement that creates a question (‘you do want to go’/ ‘do you want to go?)

Jargon: output of a young child that sounds like their native language because they use the intonational pattern, but there is no apparent meaning to the output

Language: a system of arbitrary symbols (spoken, written, signed) with syntactic rules to communicate concrete & abstract information between individuals of a social group

Larynx: the area in the throat the includes the vocal cords and other structures which produce speech


Milestones: expectations of normal behavior by a certain time period

Mirror cells: cells that fire when an action is thought about, seen, or done which are proposed as cells that allow imitation to occur

Morphology: beginnings or endings attached to the root of a word as well as changes to the root itself (de-rail, fast-er, un-tie, quick-ly, soak-ing, etc as well as ‘went’ for past tense of ‘go’, ‘ran’ for past tense of ‘run’, etc.).

Motherese: exaggerated intonation pattern that parents use with young children which usually includes a higher pitch

Noun: grammatical category consisting of objects or entities (things), places, persons Overextensions: use of a known word (‘doggie’) for another object (cow) despite the child knowing that the objects are different

Overgeneralization: overuse of past tense on verbs that are already in the past tense form (‘wented’) or incorrectly using ‘ed’ on the present tense form when a past tense form is needed (‘goed’ instead of ‘went’)

Phonology: rules for how particular sounds are put together in a particular language

Positive Reinforcement: provide encouragement for a particular behavior

Pragmatic skills: social rules (such as turn taking, initiation, closure, etc.) for a listener and a speaker to engage in appropriate conversation

Pronoun: word that replaces a person, entity, or noun (‘her’ for Karen, ‘he’ for Mike, ‘you’ for listener, ‘me’ for oneself, ‘it for book)

Pronoun reversals: usually use of second person pronoun for first person pronoun (‘you’ for ‘I’= ‘you want to go’/ ‘I want to go’

Reaction: a reply to some stimulus in contrast to a response (which assumes more volitional control to the stimulus)

Recency effect: effect of recalling the last thing said because there is less of a memory load

Receptive skills: understanding, (similar to comprehension but can refer to differentiation of sounds as well as understanding)

Reduplication: simplification of a word to help a child pronounce it which repeats the first syllable (‘baba’/bottle, ‘kiki’/kitty)

Reflex: automatic reaction that has no volitional control

Reinforcement: provide encouragement for a particular behavior

Response: reaction that assumes volitional control

Social skills: knowledge of rules of behavior that allow two people to interact appropriately

Syntax: rules of word order in a language and any additional transformations that create grammatically sound output, grammar is the final output of any deep word order rules and later surface changes (e.g., transformations)

Teratogens: an ‘agent’ that can interfere with normal development of the fetus such as excessive alcohol, drugs, certain viruses, etc.

Transformations: changes to the deep syntactic rules which create grammar (such as inverted questions or past tense)

Turn taking: pattern of listener and speaker alternating so each one has a turn and which indicates good pragmatic and/or social skills

‘Two choice’ question: question that provides 2 ready answers for the listener (Do you want juice or milk?)

Two word utterance: combinations of two words that form elementary grammatical unit (noun+noun=possessive, ‘mommy shoe’; verb + noun = action, ‘mommy go’; etc.) which is not explained by syntactic theory

Vocabulary burst: explosion of expressive words and receptive comprehension in a relatively short time period that typically starts at the age of 18 months to 2 years

Volitional response: reaction that assumes some level of control (in contrast to a reactive or reflexive response)

Vowels: a, e, i, o, u Word order: how words are placed in a sentence which reflects whether the sentence is grammatically correct or not