Deb Roy, an MIT researcher, wired his own home to study the language acquisition patterns of his son. He recorded 8-10 hours a day for 3 years, amassing 90,000 hours of video and 140,000 hours of audio.
His talk at the TED demonstrates the acquisition process of the word water, in what he calls the blossoming of the word. In addition to data about the order of the word acquisition by the child, this project documents how the caregivers are using the words. Roy says the data show that caregivers are systematically and subconsciously restructuring the language around the time of word acquisition. As he says, the child isn’t just learning from the environment, “the environment is learning from him.”
Roy and his research team are also analyzing the video data from this project, examining where words are most likely to be used and how that relates to the acquisition process.
In a different, but related process, he is also collecting data on how different word usage patterns reflect TV and social media experiences.