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The contribution of anthropology to the study of pre- and perinatal development will largely derive from the concept of culture, which is defined as the systems of meaning that members of society attribute to each other in their behavior. The concept is useful in the study of child language acquisition, since it necessitates a description of the ways that caretakers conceptualize their interactions with prelinguistic and language-acquiring children. Facilitative roles of parental speech are foregrounded, and meaning systems are made visible rather than overlooked or assumed. Illustrations are provided from English, Spanish, Luo, Samoan, and Quiche Mayan.
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Ben G. Blount, Ph.D.
Professor of anthropology & linguistics, Department of Anthropology & Linguistics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, Ben Blount is the editor of Current Topics in Child Language Acquisition, a special issue of Language Sciences 10(1), 1988; and is the author of an article in the same volume entitled "Cognition and phonology in acquisition of plurals and possessives by Luo children."