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The achievement and antecedents of labelling*

  • Anat Ninio (a1) and Jerome Bruner (a2)


The achievement of labelling was investigated in a longitudinal study of one mother–infant dyad, using video-recordings of their free play in a period between 0; 8 and 1; 6. Analysis of joint picture-book reading revealed that this activity had very early on the structure of a dialogue. The child's lexical labels might be regarded as more adult-like substitutes for earlier communicative forms that he had utilized in the dialogue. These were smiling, reaching, pointing and babbling vocalizations, all of which were consistently interpreted by the mother as expressing the child's intention of requesting a label or providing one. Participating in a ritualized dialogue, rather than imitation, was found to be the major mechanism through which labelling was achieved.



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This research was carried out with the aid of a grant by the Social Science Research Council to Oxford University for the study of the transition from prelinguistic communication to language. Anat Ninio was also partially supported by a postdoctoral grant from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Address of first author: Psychology Department, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.



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The achievement and antecedents of labelling*

  • Anat Ninio (a1) and Jerome Bruner (a2)


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