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Communicative initiations in normal and late-talking toddlers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Rhea Paul*
Portland State University
Mary E. Shiffer
North Clackamas School District
Rhea Paul, Department of Speech, P.O.B. 751, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97207-0751


Initiation of communication in videotaped, unstructured mother–child interactions was examined in two groups of 2-year-olds: those with normal language development and those with late acquisition of expressive language. Results revealed that the late-talkers (LTs) expressed significantly fewer intentions, but that the difference between the two groups could be accounted for entirely by the difference in one type of intention: the expression of joint attentional intentions. Investigation of the forms of expression of intentions showed that the normal group used significantly more verbal forms of expression, as expected. The predominant form for the normal group was word combinations, while the predominant form for the LTs was vocalization. The implications of these results for understanding the mechanisms involved in early language delay are discussed.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1991

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