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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET AMERICA DISCOVERS POVERTY engaged in fewer extended conversations. By 36 months of age, sub- stantial socio-economic disparities already exist in vocabulary knowl- edge” (NAEYC 2009, emphasis mine). Anne Fernald at Stanford University has since demonstrated that the language gap between low-income children and more affluent children is significant and is measurable by eighteen months (Fernald, Marchman, and Weis- leder 2012) and if not remedied is highly resistant to intervention after age five. It’s important to say, in defense of families (low income or oth- erwise) not providing rich language, that our current understand- ing of language development seems to equate verbosity with quality. In truth, he ability to communicate counting words to measure discourse effectively is perhaps the is sort of like counting notes to mea- single most important skill a sure the quality of a Mozart symphony. person can develop. In doing so we give no credence to families or cultures that are taciturn or plainspoken. Likewise, our assumption that children or adults who use large vocabularies are better communicators is open to question. For example, Ernest Hemingway, a writer openly con- temptuous of his contemporaries who used large vocabularies and complex sentence structures, won the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with the The Old Man and the Sea, a book that uses the vocabulary of an average eighth grader. Although early exposure to rich discourse is critical, clearly our ability to measure the quality of that discourse is crude at best. In fact, one could argue that vocabulary is nothing more than the secret handshake of the well educated and the high value placed on vocabulary in school (Rich 2013) is just another way the deck is stacked against children in poverty. T 11 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL