Imitations, Interactions, and Language Acquisition

Elizabeth Lotz Stine, John Neil Bohannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The precise function of imitation in children's speech is still debated. Two hypotheses have been offered that focus on either the progressive nature of imitation to aid in the language acquisition process or the social, conversational role played by imitation in discourse. Support for these positions was sought in the imitations within the speech of a single child at ages 2;8 and 3; o. Evidence is presented for both roles of imitation in language acquisition. First, imitation aids in limiting the complexity (MLU) of the language environment. The effects of imitation in this role are compared and contrasted to the effects of the child's productions of what? Also, forms may appear in imitation prior to their appearance in spontaneous speech. A model is proposed in which imitation and what?-responses are overlapping phases of language acquisition which occur prior to spontaneous production of a given form.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-603
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Imitations, Interactions, and Language Acquisition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this