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First language acquisition

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First language acquisition (FLA) refers to the emergence of language in infants, within the field of linguistics known as language acquisition. This covers the development of language in learners of all ages. FLA is an academic subject studied by theoretical linguists, but also involves others fields such as psychology. As linguists often argue that the process of FLA is similar to second language acquisition, these disciplines can overlap considerably.

Although all children raised in a normal environment acquire a particular language or languages - i.e. come to understand and produce them with little or no explicit training - FLA as an academic discipline focuses not on the development of specific languages, but the system of language itself. A linguist studying the progress of a child whose native language is becoming Hindi, for example, is probably seeking answers to similar questions as another tracking the development of a French-speaking child.

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