The acquisition of communicative intentions in infants eight to fifteen months of age

Robert L. Carpenter, Ann M. Mastergeorge, Truman E. Coggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The acquisition of a set of nonverbal intentionally communicative behaviors is described for six preverbal infants followed longitudinally between eight and 15 months of age. The infants were observed at monthly intervals as they interacted with their mothers in a free play situation. There was a statistically significant trend for the set of communicative intentions to emerge in the following sequence: Protesting, Request for Action, Request for Object, Comment on Action, Comment on Object, and Answering. Gesture alone and gesture + vocalization were the primary modes of expressing communicative intentions at eight months. By 15 months, the majority of communicative intentions were still conveyed by the gesture + vocalization mode; however, the gesture-alone mode had become relatively infrequent and seemed to be replaced by the. use of single-word utterances as a means of conveying communicative intentions at that time. The data corroborate the findings of other studies regarding the early onset of intentional communication prior to speech and additionally suggest a pattern of emergence of communicative intentions for the six infants studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-116
Number of pages16
JournalLanguage and speech
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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