Early communication: Beyond speech-act theory

For the past two decades, speech-act theory has been one of the basic tools for studying pragmatics from both a theoretical and an experimental perspective. In this paper, I want to discuss certain aspects of the theory with respect to data from early communication in children. My aim will be to show that some of the central assumptions of the speech-act model of utterance comprehension need to be rethought. In the second part of the paper, I will outline a different pragmatic approach to verbal understanding and present a preliminary application of this approach to the developmental data.
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