A Parent’s Guide to Telegraphic Speech

Telegraphic speech is paring away the fluff but getting the message across. Typically, the sentences contain only 2 or 3 words.

Here are some essential features of telegraphic speech:

  • Words are in the correct order.
  • Only the most essential words are used.
  • Grammatical constructions are missing, such as prefixes, conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, and question words.
  • Suffixes like the gerund “ing” as well as the plural “s” are missing.

When does telegraphic speech begin?

Precocious children will start utilizing telegraphic speech between 16 and 18 months. However, it’s common for kids between 18 and 24 months to start putting 2-word phrases together. During the ages of 2 to 2 1/2-years-old, kids will progress to 3-word telegraphic speech.

Kids acquire language skills at different paces, so resist the temptation to compare your child with the child in line with their parent at the checkout counter.

Examples of telegraphic speech

There is nothing like the joy of communicating with your kid. This significant milestone is when your kid starts sharing their world. You may hear things like:

  • mommy sit
  • daddy fix it
  • Joe hungry
  • cookie
  • where paci
  • big doggie

Organize fun activities

  • While you are doing chores and completing daily tasks, explain to your child what you are doing.
  • When playing with cars or toy animals, discuss what you’re doing and repeat the words you want to teach. Start with one new word per activity. 
  • When reading your kid a story, stop, and ask questions.

What’s the next stage?

Two- or three- word telegraphic speech is the first step in learning to talk, read, and write.

During the ages of 2 and 3, your kid will start adding words to their sentences. You can encourage them by building on what they say. Watch how quickly your kid catches on and starts utilizing the rules of grammar.

Your kid is utilizing multiple brain areas and complex cognitive and motor processes when they speak. It should not be surprising that it takes years to create a complete system. Telegraphic speech lays the foundation for so many fun conversations ahead.