Thursday, September 30, 2010
Piaget describes three types of speech in children, namely echolalia, in which what is heard is simply repeated; monologues, in which children speak out loud but mainly through the egocentrism that context and referents are understood by listeners; collective monologues, in which more than one child speak in what appear to be conversation with each member taking turns, yet where listening with comprehension is minimal. In the last category, one might theorize that the structure of conventional speech, as occurs in social units apparent to the child, is being adopted and internalized. Recognition of pause (as a function of prosody) provides the necessary clue to initiate or continue one’s own verbal trafficking. Content and appropriate response will come later, as challenges to the egocentric viewpoint arise, as Crain points out, with a shift from contact with the adult world to the peer-group, in which case, Piaget’s model holds, adoption of the other’s viewpoint is essential to eliciting appropriate responses. An example of this may proceed as follows: Laura (5 years): My pop took me to the store. Andrew (4 years): I got a new shirt. Laura: I saw some new dolls. Andrew: It has stripes. Laura: Pop bought me a doll. Andrew: It got dirty when I was playing. Laura: I want a doll house. Andrew: Mum’s washing it. On a personal note, we were amused when our daughter began showing interest in the voices coming from our cell phone. To our delight, although only a few months old and mostly babbling, she was able to wait until her grandmother, on the other end, asked her a question, before saying something. This went on for awhile before we understood she had recognized the stress and intonations correctly which required, by convention, a response. Piaget’s practice of studying his own children’s growth is a model for us, too.