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Seminar 學術講座 : Professor Ann Peters on 19th November 2002 (Tuesday)
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Topic:  Seminar 學術講座 : Professor Ann Peters on 19th November 2002 (Tuesday)
posted itemPosted - 11/11/2002 :  10:19:04
Ann Peters

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Institute of Chinese Linguistics
Language Information Sciences Research Centre



Professor Ann Peters

University of Hawaii

The Roots of a Child's Pronoun "Reversals" in Social Interaction

Time: 4:30 - 6:00 pm

Date: 19th November 2002 (Tuesday)

Venue: Room B4701, City University of Hong Kong


During language acquisition a small but non-negligeable proportion of children seem to have difficulty with the reference of first and second person pronouns, using "I" to refer to the interlocutor and YOU to refer to the self. The most often evoked explanation is that such a child has concluded that pronouns work like names, i.e. that reference is fixed. What s/he must learn is that the reference of a pronoun shifts with the speaker.

While accounting for the phenomenon in a rather gross way, this explanation misses some fascinating details that become apparent when one looks at the developmental picture more closely. Using data from my own case study of a blind pronoun-reversing boy, supplemented by data from a sighted Swedish boy who did much the same thing on much the same timetable, I find that pronoun reversals are not symmetrical: YOU is more often used to refer to the self and persists longer than the use of I to refer to the other. Moreover, it is only when one looks at the data from the perspective of the speech acts that are being negotiated that a plausible developmental pattern begins to emerge.

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