Are children flexible speakers? Effects of typicality and listener needs in children’s event descriptions

Abstract

Do children take into account their addressees’ needs in spontaneous production? Developmental evidence for speaker adjustments is mixed. Some studies show that children are often under-informative when communicating with ignorant addressees but other studies demonstrate successes in children’s ability to integrate another person’s perspective. We asked whether children adapt their event descriptions depending on (a) the typicality of event components, and (b) the listener’s visual access to the events. We found that children’s ability to use information about the listener’s visual perspective to make specific adjustments to event descriptions emerged only in highly interactive contexts, in which participants collaborated towards mutual goals.


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