Fundamental to success as a linguistic communicator is the ability to use language appropriate to the context (i.e., pragmatics). Pragmatic rules are inherently variable, and they are intimately bound up with overall sociocultural development. Unlike more structurally obvious language aspects such as grammar and vocabulary, pragmatics lacks exact age norms. This entry provides an overview of pragmatic development, touching on growth over time in several broad areas of language use.

Early Social Exchanges

Experiences in infancy set the developing child on the road to pragmatic competence, as babies engage in reciprocal exchanges with caregivers. Face-to-face interaction provides rich opportunities for infants to learn about social exchange. Games such as peekaboo and daily routine interchanges with caregivers provide them experiences where they learn about influencing and being influenced ...

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