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Norwegian children's first words

In the project Norwegian children's first words we examine the words Norwegian children learn first.


We examine the words which are most likely that Norwegian children learn first, and examine the phonological properties of these words. We have found that Norwegian children learn an equal proportion of monosyllables as well as bisyllables, and that many of the words start with a bilabial / b, p, m /. The reason that many children learn words beginning with bilabial early may be that they are visible to the child, and that it is relatively easy to produce these sounds.

Here are the first ten words Norwegian children learn:

1. mamma 'mom'

2. hei 'hello'

3. brr (car sound)

4. pappa 'dad'

5. nam-nam 'yummy'

6. nei 'no'

7. ha det 'bye-bye'

8. (sheep sound)

9. takk 'thanks'

10. voff-voff (dog sound)


We compared the Norwegian first words with first words in Danish, Swedish, English and Italian. All children learn words beginning with bilabial early, but it varies with the language how long words children learn. We also compared children's language with adult language. We found that children use more words beginning with bilabial and shorter words than adults, and that adults when talking to children also use more words beginning with bilabial and shorter words than when talking to adults.

The project has been popular in the media, and the research project has inspired a choreograph to make a ballet for children under three years. La la Pop av Inger Cecilie Bertrán de Lis.

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Here are the first words spoken by Norwegian children.

Tags: Language Acquisition
Published Nov. 17, 2014 6:49 PM - Last modified June 16, 2020 11:04 PM