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Mindreading and Verbal Communication

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In this paper, I illustrate how children’s mentalizing abilities interface with both implicit and explicit aspects of communication. I use two examples to make this point. First, I argue that some understanding that other people have mental states which can be affected by communication is present already in infancy. I show that this early sensitivity to intentionality is responsible for early communicative successes. Second, I suggest that mindreading is involved in learning the meaning of evidentials and other mental terms. I present some cross-linguistic evidence for the acquisition of evidential morphemes and relate those findings to young children’s ability to reason about beliefs, evidence and information.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute for research in Cognitive Science, University of Pennsylvania

Publication date: February 1, 2002


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