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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/149

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

JUNE, 1876.


 

LINGUAL DEVELOPMENT IN BABYHOOD.[1]
By H. TAINE.

THE following observations were made from day to day and taken down on the spot. The subject of them was a little girl, whose mental development took the ordinary course, being neither precocious nor the reverse.

From the first, probably by reflex action, this child cried incessantly, kicked, moved all its limbs, and perhaps all its muscles. It was also doubtless by reflex action that, during the first week, she moved her fingers, and even grasped for some length of time the finger of another person. Toward the third month, she began to touch with her hands, and to stretch out her arms, but did not yet know how to guide her hand; she essayed movements of the anterior members, experiencing the consequent tactile and muscular sensations—nothing more. In my opinion, out of this enormous multiplicity of movements, continually repeated, will be separated, by gradual selection, intentional movements having an object and attaining it. During the last fifteen days (age, two and a half months) I have observed one movement which is plainly an acquired one: on hearing its grandmother's voice, the infant turns its head in the direction from which the sound proceeds.

There is the same spontaneous training for the use of the voice as for movements. The vocal organ acquires dexterity just as the limbs do. The child learns how to produce such or such a sound just as it learns how to turn the head or the eyes, i. e., by constant efforts.

Toward the age of three months and a half, while in the country, the child was brought into the open air, and laid upon a carpet spread in the garden. Here, lying on her back or on her face, she for hours at a time would work with all her limbs, uttering a multitude of differ-

  1. Translated from Revue Philosophique by J. Fitzgerald, A.M. vol. ix. 9