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Becoming Human"The Ontogenesis, Metaphysics, and Expression of Human Emotionality"$
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Jennifer Greenwood

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029780

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029780.001.0001

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Out of the Mouths of Babes and Sucklings

Out of the Mouths of Babes and Sucklings

(p.111) 5 Out of the Mouths of Babes and Sucklings
Becoming Human

Jennifer Greenwood

The MIT Press

This is the second chapter on emotional ontogenesis which also addresses the acquisition of language (and, by implication, symbolic thought). The analysis focuses on species typical behaviour patterns (STBPs) which provide the basis for the development of language. It is argued that the linguistic environments into which human neonates are born and the complementary repertoires of neonatal STBPs and maternal intuitive parenting skills provide the necessary and sufficient conditions for the construction of the pragmatic foundation into which a semantic lexicon will be subsequently incorporated. The analysis demonstrates the singular importance of ‘punctuated’ suckling, joint attention and the different types of gestures used by children. The analysis also demonstrates the importance of “motherese” in the establishment of the child’s developing pragmatic framework. The child naturally imitates the interactive timing and clause boundary recognition of motherese and the rhythms, stresses and intonations associated with different speech acts. Before the child can comprehend and produce her first word she can engage in ‘conversation’ with adults.

Keywords:   Punctuated suckling, Joint attention, Language development, Species-typical behaviour patterns, Motherese

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