Proto-Conversation and Song in Infant Communication

Colwyn Trevarthen

In: Encyclopedia of Language Development

Proto-Conversation and Song in Infant Communication

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  • In the last 50 years, developmental psychologists, linguists, and educators have had to reconsider the many theories of how young children master the language of their parents. New information has come available about the communicative powers infants possess before the first word and how they develop in the first proto-conversations, or nonverbal exchanges, with parents. It has become clear that simply recording the advances in size of vocabulary, prosody, and ability to make grammatically correct utterances after the first year does not give the answer. One needs to know how communication is motivated within children before they speak, and why words become attractive to them, if we are to understand what language is, its role in communication, and how it develops.

    At 1 year, a child ...

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