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289Language Development9289Language DevelopmentFrom their very first cries, human beings communicate with the world around them. Infants communicate through sounds (crying and cooing) and through body lan-guage (pointing and other gestures). However, sometime between 8 and 18 months of age, a major developmental milestone occurs when infants begin to use words to speak. Words are symbolic representations; that is, when a child says “table,” we understand that the word represents the object. Language can be defined as a system of symbols that is used to communicate. Although language is used to communicate with others, we may also talk to ourselves and use words in our thinking. The words we use can influence the way we think about and understand our experiences.After defining some basic aspects of language that we use throughout the chapter, we describe some of the theories that are used to explain the amazing process by which we understand and produce language. We then look at the bra...