Laying the groundwork for the DELV (Precursor literature, dissertations, joint work of the Working Groups prior to the conceptualization of the DELV)
The present paper raises one of many major problems with past research. More specifically, the question is raised with regard to how the presumption of language deficits has been studied, especially the use of language deemed necessary for the development of a theory of mind. The data used to argue that there are deficits in the quality of language encountered in working-class African American households, namely the reduced frequency of references to the mind and mental states, results from language transcripts where simple counts of mental verb usage are recorded for different race/class groups. While such a coding scheme lends a gross measure of mental verb usage, it tells us nothing about the syntactic structures in which such verbs were used. Yet recent theories argue that it is not just the amount of mental verb usage that is the necessary precursor to the development of a theory of mind. Rather, it is maintained that it is the mastery of complement sentences with mental verbs that enable the ultimate development of a theory of mind (Astington and Jenkins, 1995; de Villiers and Pyers, 1997; de Villiers and de Villiers, 2000). The theory of complement sentences also includes communication verbs as a possible linguistic route to a theory of mind because such verbs allow for the same syntactic structures as mental verbs (Astington and Jenkins, 1997; de Villiers and Pyers, 1997; de Villiers and de Villiers, 2000).
Journal or Book Title
Research on child language acquisition: Proceedings of the 8th International Congress of Child Language