Chapter 4. The self as other: Self words and pronominal reversals in language acquisition

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The study of reversals may shed some light on the problems children encounter when they try to use the formal, linguistic marks to convey the distinction between the self and the non-self. In two longitudinal case studies of French speaking boys age 1;08 to 3;03, I investigate how they use self-reference. I first focus on a particular use of <i>pronominal reversal</i> in L&#233;onard&#8217;s data: the little boy&#8217;s use of the third person to designate himself. In a second longitudinal case study, we investigate how Guillaume uses the form <i>tu</i> (&#8216;you&#8217;) instead of the first person pronoun. They both speak of themselves with the others&#8217; voices in contexts in which they have either done a misdeed (third person) or an exploit (second person). In those two typical developing children, pronominal reversals seem to occur when they begin to assimilate and internalize the representations the parents formulate regarding their child&#8217;s experiences.


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