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Talking about writing: What we can learn from conversations between parents and their young children



In six analyses using the Child Language Data Exchange System known as CHILDES, we explored whether and how parents and their 1.5- to 5-year-old children talk about writing. Parent speech might include information about the similarity between print and speech and about the difference between writing and drawing. Parents could convey similarity between print and speech by using the words say, name, and word to refer to both spoken and written language. Parents could differentiate writing and drawing by making syntactic and semantic distinctions in their discussion of the two symbol systems. Our results indicate that parent speech includes these types of information. However, young children themselves sometimes confuse writing and drawing in their speech.


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ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Sarah Robins, Department of Philosophy, Campus Box 1073, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail:


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Talking about writing: What we can learn from conversations between parents and their young children



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