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Children Build on Pragmatic Information in Language Acquisition

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Abstract

Pragmatic information is integral to language use for both adults and children. Children rely on contextually shared knowledge to communicate before they can talk: they make use of gesture to convey their first meanings and then add words to gestures. Like adults, they build on joint attention, physical copresence, and conversational copresence both as they acquire and as they use language. This can be seen in children’s early communication, in their first inferences about word and utterance meanings, and in their ability to make use of appropriate contextual information as they learn how to interpret and produce terms like big or long compared to full, almost and only, and all and some.

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