COMINTENTProject reference: 303163
Funded under :
Information transmission in language: do infants perceive communicative intent?
Total cost:EUR 226 548,4
EU contribution:EUR 226 548,4
Call for proposal:FP7-PEOPLE-2011-IIFSee other projects for this call
Funding scheme:MC-IIF - International Incoming Fellowships (IIF)
"According to all treatments of human communication, humans do not only transmit information about facts, but also about their intention to transmit information. That is, when being addressed with a sentence, we do not only grasp the message carried by the sentence, but also that the speaker intended to address this message to us. While there is little doubt that adults understand the communicative intent of speakers, it is unclear whether this is also the case in infancy, or whether infants just understand that humans happen to be useful information sources, but not that speakers intend to transmit information. Here we start exploring whether and when young infants perceive linguistic utterances as intentional acts of communication from two directions. First, testing bilingual infants, we ask whether infants expect speakers and listeners to share a common code for successful communication. We first test whether bilingual infants know that they learn two distinct languages. Then, we ask whether they expect agents to share a language when they speak to each other; further we ask whether this expectation is specific to linguistic sounds, or whether any human-made sound would work as well, and whether familiarity with the speakers’ languages is required for this expectation to emerge. Second, we ask whether monolingual infants expect agents to produce utterances that are communicatively relevant to listeners. We explore whether they expect speakers to transmit information that is relevant to the listeners’ goals; further, we test whether infants perceive the speakers’ verbal behaviour as under the control of the speakers’ goals, or whether they expect speakers to reflexively “leak” relevant information. Taken together, these experiments are among the first to target the perception of speaker and listener intentions in verbal behaviour in young infants, exploring the emergence of a crucial facet of linguistic communication that might well be unique in the animal kingdom."
EU contribution: EUR 226 548,4
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