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The ontogenesis of speech acts*

  • Jerome S. Bruner (a1)

A speech act approach to the transition from pre-linguistic to linguistic communication is adopted in order to consider language in relation to behaviour generally and to allow for an emphasis on the USE of language rather than on its form. The structure of language is seen as non-arbitrary in that it reflects both attention structures (via predication) and action structures (via the fundamental case grammatical form of language). Linguistic concepts are first realized in action. A pilot study focusing on the regulation of JOINT attention and JOINT activity within the context of mutuality between mother and infant is discussed, with emphasis on ritualization in mutual play as a vehicle for understanding the development of the formal structures of language.

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Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
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