Monday, February 9, 2015

When people talk about turn taking

It's been such seriousness here lately, it's time for some scientifically motivated gifs!



Whenever people talk about turn taking (the switching of who's speaking in a conversation) and in particular the acquisition of this skill, I can't help but think of the talking twin babies of the you tubes. They are an excellent example of the fact that turn-taking is something that we as beginner humans do and practice on before learning "words". Go watch the video and you'll see what I mean, those are some highly competent conversational partners. Or just try and make a sound or a sign to a baby and watch it evaluated the turns in the conversation and preform very well.

How does turn-taking relate to diversity and description you might ask? Well, we know far to little about the acquisition of non WEIRD-languages and this is a very, very important part of understanding language, both at the specific level and the comparative. Do languages have comparable learning curves? What different types of exposure are there? Do all adult talk baby talk to babies? What difference does it make when you learn language from your peers instead of from adults? How do deaf children acquire language compared to speaking? 

And of course:

What does this mean for our understanding of the constraints on the possible design space of language?

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