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This study examined the evolution of visual perspective-taking skills in
relation to the comprehension and production of first, second and third
person pronouns. Twelve French-speaking and 12 English-speaking
children were observed longitudinally from 1;6 until they had
acquired all pronouns and succeeded on all tasks. Free-play sessions
and three tasks were used to test pronominal competence. Four other
tasks assessed Level-1 perspective-taking skills: two of these tasks
required the capacity to consider two visual perspectives, and two
others tested the capacity to coordinate three such perspectives. The
results indicated that children's performance on perspective-taking tasks
was correlated with full pronoun acquisition. Moreover, competence at
coordinating two visual perspectives preceded the full mastery of first
and second person pronouns, and competence at coordinating three
perspectives preceded the full mastery of third person pronouns when a
strict criterion was adopted. However, with less stringent criteria, the
sequence from perspective taking to pronoun acquisition varied either
slightly or considerably. These findings are discussed in the light of the
‘specificity hypothesis’ concerning the links between cognition and
language, and also in the context of the recent body of research on the
child's developing theory of mind.
This paper presents a longitudinal study on the acquisition of
second, and third person pronouns in twelve French-speaking and
twelve English-speaking children. Comprehension and production data
were collected every two months, beginning when the subjects were
aged 1;6 and ending once pronouns were fully acquired. Three hypotheses
concerning the rules children develop in learning pronouns
were tested: (1) the person-role hypothesis (Charney, 1980), (2) the
speech-role hypothesis (Clark, 1978), and (3) the name hypothesis
(Clark, 1978). An analysis of children's pronominal confusion when
were addressed listeners as well as when they were non-addressed
listeners was performed. The results indicated that the mastery of
pronouns did not follow the developmental sequence predicted by the
speech-role hypothesis; they provided evidence for the person-role
hypothesis only when children were speakers, and partially supported
the name hypothesis. The data also suggested that pronominal confusion
is not a rare phenomenon among children tested in a non-addressee
context. Finally, effects of child gender and native language were
observed. Possible interpretations of the data are discussed.
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