Children, like adults, use language to get things done. However, gaining an accurate picture of children’s development of communicative intent is challenging. While the behaviours used by children to express intent are external and thus to some degree measurable, the underlying psychological characterisation of intent is much more elusive. Speech act analysis involves identifying the goal behind a speaker’s utterance, gesture or sign, and provides a useful starting point for the analysis of communicative intent during both the pre-linguistic and linguistic stage. In the current chapter we begin by discussing the origins of Speech Act Theory and its relevance to child language development. We then discuss the emergence of speech acts in the language of young children, and also the relationship between form and function from a Speech Act perspective.
(1988) Children’s understanding of the speech act of promising. Journal of Child Language, 15, 157–173.
(1962) How to do Things with Words. Oxford: OUP.
(1976) Language and Context: Studies in the Acquisition of Pragmatics. New York, NY: Academic Press.
Bates, E., Camaioni, L., & Volterra, V.
(1975) The acquisition of performatives prior to speech. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 21, 205–26.
Bates, E., Camaioni, L., & Volterra, V.
(1976) Sensorimotor performatives. In E. Bates (Ed.), Language and Context: Studies in the Acquisition of Pragmatics. New York, NY: Academic Press.
Bernicot, J., & Legros, S.
(1987) Direct and indirect directives: What do young children understand?Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 43, 346–358.
Bernicot, J., & Lavel, V.
(2004) Speech acts in children: The example of promises. In I. Noveck & D. Sperber (Eds.), Experimental Pragmatics (pp. 207–227). Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Bucciarelli, M., Colle, L., & Bara, G.B.
(2003) How children comprehend speech acts and communicative gestures. Journal of Pragmatics, 35, 207–241.
(1970) Language Development: Form and Function in Emerging Grammars. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
(1973) A First Language: The Early Stages. London: Allen & Unwin.
(1975) The ontogenesis of speech acts. Journal of Child Language, 2, 1–19.
Camaioni, L., Longobardi, E., Venuti, P., & Bornstein, M.
(1998) Maternal speech to 1-year-old children in two Italian cultural contexts. Early Development and Parenting, 7, 9–17.
(2012) A functional account of verb use in the early stages of English multiword development. Journal of Child Language,39: 885–897.
Cameron-Faulkner, T., Lieven, E., & Tomasello, M.
(2003) A construction based analysis of child directed speech. Cognitive Science, 27, 843–73.
Cameron-Faulkner, T., & Hickey, T.
(2011) Form and function in Irish child directed speech. Cognitive Linguistics, 22, 569–94.
Clark, H.H., & Lucy, P.
(1975) What is meant from what is said. A study in conversationally conveyed request. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 14, 56–72.
(1999) Theories of adults’ understanding and use of irony and sarcasm: Applications to and evidence from research with children. Developmental Review, 19, 213–262.
(1975) Holophrases, speech acts and language universals. Journal of Child Language, 2, 21–40.
Gordon, D.P., & Ervin-Tripp, S.
(1985) The development of requests. In R.L. Schieffelbusch (Ed.), Communicative Competence: Acquisition and Intervention. Beverley Hills, CA: College Hills Press.
(1974) Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organisation of Experience. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
(1975) Learning to Mean. Explorations in the Development of Language. London: Edward Arnold.
(1983) Pragmatics. Cambridge: CUP.
Naigles, L.R., Hoff, E., & Vear, D.
(2009) Flexibility in early verb use: Evidence from a multiple-N diary study. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 74, 1–143.
(1991) Introduction to the Ninio and Wheeler taxonomy of verbal communicative acts and to the INCA abridged version. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, Washington, April, 1991.
(1992) The relation of children’s single word utterances to single word utterances in the input. Journal of Child Language, 19, 87–110.
(1984) A manual for classifying verbal communicative acts in mother-infant interaction. Working Papers in Developmental Psychology, No. 1. Jerusalem: The Martin and Vivian Levin Center, Hebrew University. Reprinted as Transcript Analysis 1986, 3, 1–82.
Rakoczy, H., & Tomasello, M.
(2009) Done wrong or said wrong? Young children understand the normative directions of fit of different speech acts. Cognition, 13, 205–12.
(2001) Pragmatic development in early infancy: The development of communicative intents expressed by three children during mealtimes. In M. Almgren, A. Barreña, M.J. Ezeizabarrena, I. Idiazabal, & B. MacWhinney (Eds.),
Research on Child Language Acquisition: Proceedings of the 8th Conference of the International Association for the Study of Child Language
(pp. 546–557). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
(2010) Maternal expression of communicative intentions and pragmatic fine tuning in early infancy. Infant behavior & development, 33(4): 373–86.
(1980) The emergence of illocutionary skills. Journal of Child Language, 7, 13–28.
Ryckebusch, C., & Marcos, H.
(2004) Speech acts, social context and parent-toddler play between the ages of 1;5 and 2;3. Journal of Pragmatics, 36, 883–897.
Sadock, J., & Zwicky, A.M.
(1985) Speech act distinctions in syntax. In T. Shopen (Ed.), Language Typology and Syntactic Description, Vol. 1: Clause Structure. Cambridge: CUP.
(1988) Presequences and indirection: Applying speech act theory to ordinary conversation. Journal of Pragmatics, 12, 55–62.
(1976) A classification of illocutionary acts. Language in Society, 5, 1–23.
Searle, J., & Vanderveken, D.
(1985) Foundations of Illocutionary Logic. Csambridge: CUP.
(1978) Children’s comprehension of their mothers’ question-directives. Journal of Child Language, 5, 39–46.
Snow, C.E., Pan, B.A., Imbens-Bailey, A., & Herman, J.
(1996) Learning how to say what one means: A longitudinal study of children’s speech act use. Social Development, 5, 56–84.
(2003) A construction-based approach to indirect speech acts. In K.-U. Panther & L. Thornburg (Eds.), Metonymy and Pragmatic Inferencing. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
(1993) Working on Talk: The Collaborative Shaping of Linguistic Skills within Child-adult Interaction. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of York.
(2000) Do children have adult syntactic competence. Cognition, 74, 209–53.
(2003) Constructing a Language: A Usage-based Approach of Language Acquisition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
(2008) Explorations in the Development of Young Children’s Speech Act of Threatening in Mandarin Chinese. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag.
Winner, E., & Leekam, S.
(1991) Distinguishing irony from deception: Understanding the speaker’s second order intention. British Journal Of Developmental Psychology, 9, 257–270.
Cited by 6 other publications
Backus, Ad & Kutlay Yağmur
2019. Differences in pragmatic skills between bilingual Turkish immigrant children in the Netherlands and monolingual peers. International Journal of Bilingualism 23:4 ► pp. 817 ff.
Bergey, Claire, Zoe Marshall, Simon DeDeo & Daniel Yurovsky
2022. Learning Communicative Acts in Children's Conversations: A Hidden Topic Markov Model Analysis of the CHILDES Corpora. Topics in Cognitive Science 14:2 ► pp. 388 ff.
2020. Is Conceptual Diversity an Advantage for Scientific Inquiry? A Case Study on the Concept of ‘Gesture’ in Comparative Psychology. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science 54:4 ► pp. 805 ff.
ZEREY, Özge Gül & Hatice SOFU
2021. Turkish Preschool Children’s Pragmatic Competence on Apologies: The Influence of Sociolinguistic Factors and Contextual Variables. Dilbilim Araştırmaları Dergisi 32:3 ► pp. 17 ff.
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 9 december 2023. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers.
Any errors therein should be reported to them.