When child language began to be studied in the sixties, what interested researchers most was what could be considered language per se. Holophrases were excluded as seemingly having no syntax and research work was carried out as of the two-word stage. Language development was studied up to around age seven, the age at which natural acquisition processes were considered to be contaminated by formal schooling in language.In opposition to such an attitude, this volume has ignored this heavily studied area of language development preferring to present research being carried out at the two ends of the development process that had been rejected: that of prelinguistic speech skills, at the one end, and the development of discourse at the other. This book thus begins with the physical properties in human development necessary for language to occur. It also offers studies on a child's initial equipment, i.e. intra-uterine skills and skills acquired before first words. At the other end are studies on the development of discourse, i.e. the child's acquisition of the ability not only to juxtapose ideas, but to link them into cohesive, coherent texts and to use argumentation, skills that are not fully acquired until the child is well into adolescence and nearing adulthood.
1. Introduction (by Pieraut-Le Bonniec, Gilberte); 2. Speech Bases; 3. Phylogeny and Ontogeny of Languages (by Bresson, F.); 4. Prenatal Familiarization (by Lecanuet, J.P.); 5. Initial Equipment for Speech Perception (by Bertoncini, Josiane); 6. Target-Language Influences on Prespeech (by Boysson-Bardies, B. de); 7. Prosodic Cues in Very Young Children s Speech (by Bacri, N.); 8. Basic Discourse Capacities; 9. Cohesion: Syntactic Organization Leading to Discourse; 10. Verbs as Sentence Organizers (by Pieraut-Le Bonniec, Gilberte); 11. Pronoun Assignment in the Processing of Locally Ambiguous Sentences (by Seguy, J.); 12. Conjunctions: Developmental Issues (by Kail, Michele); 13. Children's Production of Textual Organizers (by Bronckart, J-P.); 14. The Development of Discourse Cohesion: Some Functional and Cross-Linguistic Issues (by Hickmann, Maya); 15. Coherence: Language as it Underlies and Organizes Knowledge; 16. An Opaque Text as a Mobilizer of Knowledge (by Dolitsky, Marlene); 17. The Development and Role of Narrative Schema Storytelling (by Esperet, E.); 18. Stories A Psycholinguistic and Ontogenetic Approach to the Acquisition of Narrative Abilities (by Fayol, Michel); 19. The Development of Argumentative Discourse (by Pieraut-Le Bonniec, Gilberte); 20. References; 21. Index