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A child’s point and the achievement of intentionality

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This paper examines the intentionality of very young children’s communicative action by looking at interactional sequences that are touched off by a child’s point. Young children use points and vocalizations, including “proto words,” to orient to some feature of their situation in a manner that makes relevant a response by the caregiver. These gestures initiate interactional sequences through which the caregiver locates a candidate specification of the point’s target. The child’s point is oriented to by caregivers as a recognizable action directed to some end. We suggest that intentionality, is a feature of participants’ production and recognition of actions becomes visible in interaction between the child and the caregiver as it unfolds in a particular situation.

The electronic edition of this article includes audio-visual data.

Keywords: child development; intentionality; interaction; language socialization; pointing

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2003

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