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Academic Paper


Title: Maternal mental state talk and infants' early gestural communication
Author: Virginia Slaughter
Institution: The University of Queensland
Author: Candida C. Peterson
Institution: The University of Queensland
Author: Malinda Carpenter
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science
Abstract: Twenty-four infants were tested monthly for the production of imperative and declarative gestures between 0 ; 9 and 1 ; 3 and concurrent mother–infant free-play sessions were conducted at 0 ; 9, 1 ; 0 and 1 ; 3 (Carpenter, Nagell & Tomasello, ). Free-play transcripts were subsequently coded for maternal talk about mental states. Results revealed that the earlier infants produced imperative gestures, the more frequently their mothers made reference to the infants' own volitional states (want, try, need, etc.) at 1 ; 3. The same relation also emerged using maternal reports of their infants' gestural communication on a standard language development measure. These results indicate that mothers' talk about desires and intentions is linked to their infants' early developing communicative competence.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 36, Issue 5, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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