Infant Pointing: Harlequin, Servant of Two Masters

In Naomi Eilan, Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack & Johannes Roessler (eds.), Joint Attention: Communication and Other Minds. Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. Oxford University Press (2005)
Infants initiate joint attentional exchanges by pointing relevant referents out to addressees. Over the second year of life, the functional meaning of the pointing gesture develops from declarative (sharing a referent) to informational (giving some information that is new to the addressee). This chapter analyzes this transition in the development of pointing based on experimental evidence about its production contexts and, in particular, of variables concerning the visibility of referents for infant and addressee. Further evidence is reported concerning the association of pointing with vocalizations and visual checking towards the addressee in different temporal sequencing. It is argued that shared attention initiated by pointing plays a pivotal role in the intersection between social cognition and language development.
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