chapter  5
19 Pages

Communication and the development of symbolic play

The need for a pragmatic perspective
WithMichel Deleau

This chapter focuses on the developmental status of semiotic activities in children. It discusses the assumptions that semiotic activities are a specific form of human behaviour and are elaborated in the course of development, differ on major theoretical points concerning their prerequisites, the factors of their transformation and, finally, their relationships with cognitive development. The chapter presents a critical analysis of the developmental conceptions in which is shown the necessity of having recourse to pragmatic concepts to analyse semiotic activities and establish their interactional and intersubjective origins. It explains empirical research on symbolic play in young children from the theoretical perspective. The chapter suggests that the interactional continuity hypothesis: the 'cultural line' is present from the beginning for biological reasons and deferred imitation, which ensures the transition between perceptual-motor and true semiotic activities, is also rooted in early interactional processes. Investigating directly the development of non-verbal semiotic behaviours in their relations with communication offers another interesting empirical field.