BCL Spring Seminar Series 2024

Ontogenetic emergence of human communication

Organised by Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL).

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Key Information:

Date and time
Wed 28 February 2024
13:00 - 14:00
Online Event
Dr Minna Kirjavainen-Morgan Minna.Kirjavainen-Morgan@uwe.ac.uk
Booking required

About the event

Join our guest speaker, Professor Ulf Liszkowski (University of Hamburg) for his online talk, Ontogenetic emergence of human communication, on Wednesday 28 February 2024, 13:00-14:00 GMT.


Understanding each other is at the core of shared and cultural human activities. How do forms of mutual understanding arise in human ontogeny? While classic studies have focused on the acquisition of language and Theory of Mind in children, I argue that both skills emerge from an earlier ontogenetic basis, and through a developmental process of social construction that runs deep in ontogeny. 

I will first review evidence for a prelinguistic gestural basis of human communication entailing an understanding of shared reference around one year of age, notably when infants begin to point. Based on a series of recent studies, I will then argue that this form of communication and its social cognition is best characterized as an aligning of mental states, but does not yet involve confronting different perspectives, which emerges in children’s spontaneous acts of misinforming and lying around three years of age (Liszkowski 2018). Addressing the developmental process, I will present recent findings from the first year of life on the emergence of shared reference. These findings reveal simpler forms of interacting and understanding others’ referential communication before pointing has emerged; and predictors of pointing in caregivers’ interactive behaviours and infants’ object-directed activities. I propose that the activity of object exchanges paired with caregivers’ responsivity constitutes a primary source for developing shared reference (Liszkowski & Rüther 2021). 


All welcome to this free online event.

Please register your attendance and we will send you the Zoom joining link.

  • Cost: Free
  • Attendance: Booking required


This is an online event

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