AT FIRST it's just noise: a stream of incoherent sounds, burbling away. But, after a few minutes, a fully formed word suddenly emerges: "red". Then another: "box". In this way, a babbling robot learns to speak its first real words, just by chatting with a human.
Seeing this developmental leap in a machine may lead to robots that speak in a more natural, human-like way, and help uncover how children first start to make sense of language.
Between the ages of 6 and 14 months children move from babbling strings of syllables to uttering actual words. It's a necessary step en route to acquiring full language. Once a few "anchor" words have been established, they provide clues as to where words may start and finish and so it becomes easier for a child to learn to speak.