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Volume 7 Issue 2 (July 1998), Pages no-no, 143-272

Pragmatics of Self‐ and Other‐Reference in Young Children (pages 219-233)

During the first years of life, children come to understand and talk about a self separate from others. This study examined self‐ and other‐reference and communicative intents expressed by children and parents in dyadic interaction at 14, 20 and 32 months. Research questions included whether children's early use of self‐ and other‐reference pronouns occurred for expression of particular communicative intents, how use changed with age, and whether parent and child pragmatic expressions of self and other were similar. Results showed that children's early explicit reference to self tended to take the form of I rather than me/my/mine, and was used primarily in making statements about their intended actions, in making requests or proposals to their parents and in stating propositions about the world around them. Children during this developmental period were only beginning to refer to the present other with the pronoun you and these instances occurred primarily in making requests or proposals. Despite age‐related increases in pronominal forms and intents, a small set of intents continued to provide the context for most self‐ and other‐reference pronouns. In the communicative contexts in which they explicitly refer to self and other, children did not appear to exclusively mirror those which were observed in parental speech.

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