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date: 19 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Language and music are readily distinguished by adults, but there is growing evidence that infants first experience speech as a special type of music. By listening to the phonemic inventory and prosodic patterns of their caregivers’ speech, infants learn how their native language is composed, later bootstrapping referential meaning onto this musical framework. Our current understanding of infants’ sensitivities to the musical features of speech, the co-development of musical and linguistic abilities, and shared developmental disorders, supports the view that music and language are deeply entangled in the infant brain and modularity emerges over the course of development. This early entanglement of music and language is crucial to the cultural transmission of language and children’s ability to learn any of the world’s tongues.

Keywords: infant, language, music, emergent modularity, development

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