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Joint Attention: Communication and Other MindsIssues in Philosophy and Psychology$
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Naomi Eilan, Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack, and Johannes Roessler

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245635

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245635.001.0001

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Understanding the Role of Communicative Intentions in Word Learning

Understanding the Role of Communicative Intentions in Word Learning

(p.165) 8 Understanding the Role of Communicative Intentions in Word Learning
Joint Attention: Communication and Other Minds

Mark A. Sabbagh

Dare Baldwin

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents arguments and reviews evidence in support of the hypothesis that in the course of typical word learning, young children actively pursue joint attention because they understand that others' attentional focus gives information about their referential and communicative intentions. It argues that alternative conceptions of the role of joint attention in language, in particular ones that focus on largely passive associative mechanisms, cannot account for the range of experimental data that has been collected with young word learners. Finally, the chapter argues that the conceptual requirements for making inferences about others' communicative intentions need not be very sophisticated and the chapter notes that these skills may be grounded in infants' basic perceptual and neurobiological capacities.

Keywords:   communication intentions, referential intentions, intentionality, infants, word learning, theory of mind

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