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From "Speech Communities," by Paul Roberts, in Language: Introductory Readings, Virginia Clark, Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, and Beth Lee Simon, eds., 7th Ed., 2008

The child’s language learning, now and later, is governed by two obvious motives: the desire to communicate and the desire to be admired. He imitates what he hears. More or less successful imitations usually bring action and reward and tend to be repeated. Unsuccessful ones usually don’t bring action and reward and tend to be discarded.

But since language is complicated business it is sometimes the unsuccessful imitations that bring the reward. The child, making a stab at the word mother, comes out with muzzer. The family decides that this is just too cute for anything and beams and repeats muzzer, and the child, feeling that he’s scored a bull’s eye, goes on saying muzzer long after he has mastered other and brother. Baby talk is not so much invented by the child as sponsored by the parent.

Eventually the child moves out of the family and into another speech community - other children of his neighborhood. He goes to kindergarten and immediately encounters speech habits that conflict with those he has learned. If he goes to school and talks about his muzzer, it will be borne in on him by his colleagues that the word is not well chosen. Even mother may not pass the muster, and he may discover that he gets better results and is altogether happier if he refers to his female parent as his ma or even his old lady.