Children's speech revisions for a familiar and an unfamiliar adult.
Initial characterizations of the communicative abilities of preschoolers stressed their egocentric nature. Recently, however, even 2-year-olds have been observed to adjust their speech appropriately in situations in which the listener provides feedback by signaling noncomprehension. The current study had an adult signal noncomprehension to the requests of 2-year-old Stage I and Stage II children. Each child interacted with a familiar (mother) and an unfamiliar adult. The children repeated their requests about one third of the time and revised them about two thirds of the time. Stage I children elaborated their requests significantly more often than Stage II children. The familiarity of the adult listener had no effect on the way Stage II children revised their requests, but the Stage I children's revisions contained novel lexical items more often when they were interacting with the unfamiliar adult. Both of these findings may have resulted from the fact that the more conversationally skilled Stage II children relied on verbal-conversational cues, which were the same for both adult interactants in this situation. The Stage I children may have been less aware of these conversational cues, relying on general social cues such as familiarity of the interactant. The results are discussed in terms of the potential role of different types of adults in the language acquisition process.
Tomasello, M; Farrar, MJ; Dines, J
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