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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: May 2018

Part III - Using language

Summary

[L]anguage acquisition is to a great extent the learning of how to make conversations.

Jean Berko Gleason 1977

Language is a social art. In acquiring it we have to depend entirely on inter-subjectively available cues as to what to say and when.

Willard v. O. Quine 1960

Chapter 12: Honing conversational skills ■ 317

Chapter 13: Doing things with language ■ 346

Chapter 14: Two languages at a time ■ 380

Speakers need to be flexible as they participate in conversation. For this, they must master a range of skills, from telling stories to persuading someone of their point of view; from giving instructions to telling jokes; from adjusting their speech to the level of the interlocutor to translating from one language to another. The focus in these chapters is on children's emerging skills in conversation, as they learn how to talk to different people about different things and how to adjust their speech to accommodate to their addressees as they accumulate common ground in each exchange. Children learn how to present topics and choose goals in conversation. And when they learn two languages at once, they are faced with an additional choice – which language to use when.