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This chapter shows how very young children’s intentions in interaction are made visible in sequences of action through a very common sort of child-initiated exchange, one that is founded on their emerging joint attention capacities: object presentations. These exchanges, which consist at minimum of two turns – an initiating action by the child and a response by the adult – can be oriented to by adults and extended in ways that facilitate child learning.
A most fundamental kind of knowing is that which is based on what someone sees or experiences. Direct perceptual access to an event informs our knowledge and understanding of something that has transpired, and both entitles and obligates us to act and to tell others about it in particular ways. As the chapters in this volume demonstrate, one of the most basic and pervasive features of language use has to do with how participants design and implement their talk by reference to their own entitlements to knowledge, and what they figure others' to be. In this chapter, I examine how children aged 14 to 30 months, who are in the early stages of language use, come to have a practiced grasp of how knowledge matters for the organization of interaction – in particular, for how their own and others' differential access to an event motivates and shapes the lines of action they take.
For very young children, an understanding of the relationship between what someone sees and what they know is considered a developmental milestone, one that indexes a major cognitive shift in the way we understand other persons as intentional agents. A long line of research in developmental and cognitive psychology has been concerned with children's abilities to assess another person's knowledge based on his or her perceptual access to an event.
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