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Vidéo Année : 2006

The Ontogenetic Emergence of Cooperative Communication.



Lecture 4. Language as Shared Intentionality
Human linguistic communication has same social-cognitive, social-motivational infrastructure as pointing and gestural communication - but attention-directing done with conventions. NOT written, but spoken language. [Intuitions come from written.] NOT meaning as thing, but use of linguistic forms for communicative functions Direct att. in shared conceptual space - like gestures (but w/conventions) NOT grammatical rules, but patterns of use => schemas Constructions themselves as complex symbols "She sneezed him the ball" NOT 'a grammar' but a structured inventory of constructions: continuum of regularity => idiomaticity è grammaticality = normativity Many complexities = "unification" of constructions w/ incompatibilities. NOT innate UG, but "teeming modularity" (1) symbols, pred-arg structure, social intentions/speech acts, speech/phonology, categorization, etc. (2) diff. functions not many language universals, but some due to universals of: human cognition, social cognition/attention, vocal-auditory processing.

4.1. Common Infrastructure of Pointing and Language
Primacy of the utterance: Holophrases - reference + expr. of motive referents here & now = pointing => demonstratives (direct att. in space) referents not here & now = characterizing gestures => content words noun = 'thing'; verb = 'event': categories ape att-getters ------ co-operative pointing demonstratives & deictics ape int-movements ------ characterizing gestures content words [nouns, verbs] Others outside CG/JAF (children) imitatively learn: convention > use drift, arbitrariness => generalization of conventionality (money) Grammar: Two aspects of a situation symbolized "Eat" ...... "Berries" => then mental combination under one contour e.g., after non-comprehension? breakdown and repair Utterance Semantics = Event (incl. state) + Participants (+ setting) role of imitation in construction of event categories also: topic introduction (w/ demonstratives) Utterance Pragmatics = (i) speaker motives & attitudes (ii) structuring of info for A's perspective/knowledge/expectations referential choice for NPs and VPs (referential newness) topic-focus for information structure of utterance (relational newness) Grammaticalization of constructions = pre-fab. packages for recurrent comm. situations - constructions themselves as complex symbols "She sneezed him the ball" incl. both semantics & pragmatics incl. both utt.-level and phrase-level: NPs & VPs & PPs as modular Emergence of second-order symbols (gramm. morphemes from Ns, Vs, demonstratives) via grammaticalization, as "relational glue" in constructions (1) relating referents to one another or designating role in whole utterance case marker or word order for semantic role external agreement (e.g., subj-verb) for semantic role internal agreement (e.g., determiner-adj-noun) for phrase grouping (2) grounding referents in ongoing JAF [N = 'space'; V = 'time'] Nouns = determiners, possessives, relative clauses, etc. Verbs = tense-aspect-modality Indefiniteness & Non-finiteness Example = car wreck: C motive = quest, inform; A perspct. = agent, patient - agent-focus inform: "Mary hit Jerry." [She hit Jerry] [Mary hit him] - patient-focus inform: "He got hit (by Mary)." [The guy in the hat got hit] - agent Q: "Who hit him?" "Whom did she hit?" [Whom was she hitting?] - patient Q: "Who got hit (by her)?" [Who ought to have gotten hit?] - agent cleft: "It was Mary that hit him" "It was Jerry whom she hit." - patient cleft: "It was Jerry who got hit (by her)" - agent cleft Q: "Was it Mary that hit him?" "Was it Jerry whom she hit?" - patient cleft Q: "Was it Jerry that got hit (by her)?" Example of process: - He pulled the door and it opened => He pulled the door open (resultative construction) - I am going to see my bride => I'm gonna see the next century (go-future) - I want it ... I buy it => I want to buy it (infinitival complement) - I believe that !... Mary will wed John => I believe that Mary will wed John (S-complement) - My boyfriend ... He rides horses ... He bets on them => My boyfriend, who rides horses, bets on them (relative clause) "Yesterday's discourse is today's syntax"; "Yesterday's syntax is today's morphology" (T. Givón): processing, predictability, prag. inferences Many problems created by "unification" of constructions w/ incompatiblties EG: extraction constraints (Goldberg, 2006) Discourse narratives as motivation for complex TAM marking noun classes for reference tracking in narratives Universals = universals of human cognition, communication, v-a processing no Universal Grammar ( what is it, anyway?).

4.3. Ontogenetic Origins
Primacy of utterance; initial holophrases [often final word of adult utt.] request or indicate objects (e.g., by naming them with a requestive or neutral intonation); request or indicate the recurrence of objects or events (e.g., More, Again, Another-One); request or indicate dynamic events involving objects (e.g., Up, Down, Open, Close); request or indicate the actions of people (e.g., Eat,Kick, Ride, Draw); indicate the location of objects and people (e.g., Here, Outside); ask questions (e.g., Whats-that? or Where-go?); indicate a property of an object (e.g., Pretty or Wet); mark specific social events and situations (e.g., Hi, Bye, Thank-You, No). Cultural (imitative) learning of holophrase: form => function (role reversal) Extracting Words Child hears whole utterances; to extract word must: comprehend overall comm. act blame assignment of components: segment comm. act JAF + word learning studies (summarized in T 2001) way Mom uses words inside JAF matters; outside no experiments in hiding/finding JAF: (e.g., T & Barton, '94) Known words in utterance (syntagmatics) => helps blame assignment Known alternatives (paradigmatics) => construal (dog vs pet vs pest) Referential choice exps: shared-new [C,B,T 2000; W&T, 2005 Conventionality, imitation, normativity Historically = conventions; developmentally = norms (laugh) Abstracting Constructional Patterns After holophrases => verb islands, item-based constructns (not a grammar) abstract slots based on function first without and then with syntactic marking Abstract constructions => grammaticality as normativity syntagmatic categories: analogy based on function: Subj-Obj paradigmatic categories: distributional analysis: Ns & Vs constraint based on entrenchment & pre-emption.

Summary: Linguistic Communication
Same social-cognitive, social-motivational infrastructure as pointing [Fig. 2] Symbols = gestures, drift to arbitrary => conventions ontogeny: observe use (function) in utterances & imitate: normative Grammar = constructions and their creative combination [grammaticalization] ontogeny: find patterns (function) and generalize: normative Phylogeny + History in Ontogeny Ontogeny = dual inheritance: genes and utterances.

Some References
Campbell, A., Brooks, P., & Tomasello, M. (2000). Factors affecting young children's use of pronouns as referring expressions. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearning Research,43, 1337 - 1349. Lohmann, H., Tomasello, M., & Meyer, S. (2005). Linguistic communication and social understanding. In J. Astington & J. Baird (Eds.), Why Language Matters for Theory of Mind. Oxford University Press. Tomasello, M. (1992). First Verbs: A Case Study of Early Grammatical Development. Cambridge University Press. Tomasello, M. (2003). Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press. Tomasello, M. (1998). Cognitive linguistics. In W. Bechtel & G. Graham (Eds.), A Companion to Cognitive Science. Basil Blackwell Tomasello, M. (2000). Do young children have adult syntactic competence? Cognition, 74, 209-253. Tomasello, M. (2000). First steps in a usage based theory of language acquisition. Cognitive Linguistics, 11, 61-82 Tomasello, M. (2000). The item based nature of children's early syntactic development. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 156-163. Tomasello, M. (2001). Bruner on language acquisition. In D. Bakhurst & S. Shanker (Eds.), Jerome Bruner: Language, Culture, Self. Sage Press. Tomasello, M. (2001). Perceiving intentions and learning words in the second year of life. In M. Bowerman & S. Levinson (Eds.), Language Acquisition and Conceptual Development. Cambridge University Press. Tomasello, M. (2004). What kind of evidence could refute the UG hypothesis? Studies in Language, 28, 642-44. Tomasello, M. (2005). Beyond formalites: The case of language acquisition. The Linguistic Review, 22, 167-181 Tomasello, M. (2006). Acquiring linguistic constructions. In D. Kuhn & R. Siegler (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology. New York: Wiley. Tomasello, M. (2006). The social-cognitive bases of language development. In K. Brown (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics (2nd ed.). Elsevier. Tomasello, M. (Ed.). (1998 = Volume 1; 2003 = Volume 2). The New Psychology of Language: Cognitive and Functional Approaches to Lanuage Structure. Lawrence Erlbaum. Wittek, A. & Tomasello, M. (2005). Young children's sensitivity to listener knowledge and perceptual context in choosing referring expressions. Applied Psycholinguistics, 26, 541-58.

Dates et versions

medihal-01781087 , version 1 (29-04-2018)


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  • HAL Id : medihal-01781087 , version 1


Tomasello Michael, Elisabeth de Pablo, Richard Fillon, Camille Bonnemazou, Margot Sputo-Mialet. The Ontogenetic Emergence of Cooperative Communication. : Origins of Human Communication. . 2006. ⟨medihal-01781087⟩


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