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Referential interactions of Turkish-learning children with their caregivers about non-absent objects: integration of non-verbal devices and prior discourse*

  • BEYZA Ş. ATEŞ (a1) and AYLİN C. KÜNTAY (a1)

This paper examines the way children younger than two use non-verbal devices (i.e., deictic gestures and communicative functional acts) and pay attention to discourse status (i.e., prior mention vs. newness) of referents in interactions with caregivers. Data based on semi-naturalistic interactions with caregivers of four children, at ages 1;00, 1;05, and 1;09, are analyzed. We report that children employ different types of non-verbal devices to supplement their inadequate referential forms before gaining mastery in language. By age 1;09, children show sensitivity to discourse status by using deictic gestures to accompany their non-lexical forms for new referents. A comparison of children's patterns with those in the input they receive reveals that caregivers choose their referential forms in accordance with discourse status information and tend to use different types of non-verbal devices to accompany their lexical and non-lexical referential forms. These results show that non-verbal devices play an important role in early referential discourse.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Beyza Ş. Ateş, İstanbul Kemerburgaz University, School of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, D Building, Room 317, Mahmutbey Mahallesi, Mahmutbey Dilmenler Caddesi, No:26, 34218 Bağcılar, İstanbul-Turkey. tel: +90 0212 6040100 extension:1618; e-mail:
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This research is the part of the Koç University Longitudinal Language Development Database (KULLDD) developed at the Language and Communication Development Lab at Koç University (Küntay, Koçbaş, & Taşcı, 2015) and funded by TUBA and Eurocores, ESF. The database in the present paper is now part of the ‘ACQDIV Corpus’ (2016, <>). We would like to thank Dilara Koçbaş and Engin Arık for coordinating the corpus project; Vasfiye Geçkin for editing the manuscript; Aslı Özden, Ayça Bilmez, and Ozan Kuru for transcribing our dataset; and Ezgi Aydoğdu for assisting in the coding of our dataset. We also warmly thank the families and their children who took part in the corpus project for their contribution to the development of the corpus data.

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