Plenary Lecture 2: “Two sources of meaning in infant communication”

May 2nd 2014, 11:15 – 12:00

It is suggested that infants, like adults, use two sources of extralinguistic information to communicate meaningfully and react to and express communicative intentions appropriately. I will first review relevant experiments which demonstrate that infants use information from preceding shared activities (common ground) to tailor their comprehension and production of communication.

In the main part I will then present a series of novel findings from our lab which show that infants also use accompanying characteristics (like prosody and posture) that mark communicative intentions to extract and transmit meaning. Findings reveal that before infants begin to speak they communicate in meaningful ways by binding preceding and simultaneous multisensory information to a communicative act. These skills are not just a precursor to language but an outcome of social-cognitive development and socio-cultural experience in the first year of life.

Ulf Liszkowski, Universität Hamburg

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