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Speech Acts

The expression and comprehension of communicative intent is central to everyday linguistic interaction. Language is a tool—a way of getting things done with words—as highlighted in the influential work of J. L. Austin. However, despite its centrality, the coding and formal identification of communicative intent is elusive, partly as a consequence of its multidimensional nature and also due to the range of politeness conventions found in varying forms across the world's languages, which can obscure the core intent behind some linguistic productions. The problematic nature of ascribing communicative intent to linguistic productions is exacerbated when attempted on the speech, signs, and gestures of young children. Nevertheless, a clear picture of children's ability to use and comprehend communicative intent is essential both in order to account ...

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