Journal of Child Language


Games, social exchange and the acquisition of language

Nancy Ratnera1 and Jerome Brunera1

a1 University of Oxford


The nature of early games and how they might assist the infant in language acquisition were explored in a longitudinal study of two mother–infant dyads, using video-recordings of their free play. Analysis of appearance and disappearance games, in particular, revealed: (1) a restricted format, with a limited number of semantic elements, and a highly constrained set of semantic relations; (2) a clear repetitive structure, which allowed both for anticipation of the order of events and variation of the individual elements; (3) positions for appropriate vocalizations which could in turn be used to mark variations; and (4) the development of reversible role relationships between mother and child.

(Received June 03 1977)