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The theory of mind's role in pronoun acquisition : the phenomenon of pronoun reversal in typically developing children
Greta Mazzaggio, 2016, original scientific article

Abstract: This study’s aim is to understand how children learn first- and second-person singular pronouns. Many researchers tried to find possible connection between Theory of Mind (ToM) and the acquisition of pronouns. The ability to produce and comprehend first- and second-person singular pronouns seems closely linked with the ability to appreciate other people’s mental states: a lack or non-mature development of ToM may thus affect their competence in using pronouns. To strengthen this hypothesis we focused on the phenomenon of pronoun reversal, which mainly consists in the substitution of I for you, and you for I, testing a group of 17 typically developing children - 38 to 70 months of age. Due to its pro-drop classification, Italian is the focus language of this study. The outcome showed a correlation between the phenomena of ToM and pronoun reversal. Further research should focus on the directionality of this correlation and better our understanding of its meaning.
Keywords: pronoun reversal, pronouns, echolalia, theory of mind, typically developing children, psycholinguistics
Published in RUNG: 27.09.2021; Views: 1660; Downloads: 45
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Echolalia as a communicative strategy : a Kleefstra-syndrome case study
Greta Mazzaggio, 2016, unpublished conference contribution

Keywords: echolalia, kleefstof syndrome, communication
Published in RUNG: 23.09.2021; Views: 1467; Downloads: 0
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Citazione patologica : il fenomeno dell'ecolalia
Greta Mazzaggio, 2015, unpublished conference contribution

Abstract: La citazione è spesso utilizzata nella letteratura, ma anche nella conversazione, come strumento di arricchimento stilistico e concettuale, o semplicemente per supportare la propria idea con parole altrui. Ma se per qualcuno citare fosse il solo modo di comunicare? Questo è il caso di alcune patologie, tra le quali l’autismo, in cui difficoltà di creazione di proposizioni con funzione dichiarativa vengono mitigate con strategie tra le quali la ripetizione, meccanica e stereotipata, di parole e frasi altrui: l’ecolalia. Tale fenomeno è un mezzo di apprendimento linguistico comune a tutti i bambini che si accostano all’acquisizione del parlato, ma quando non avvengono una risoluzione e un superamento mediante il passaggio ad una comunicazione personale, si cade nella patologia. L’eco può presentarsi subitamente, e in tal caso parliamo di ecolalia immediata, oppure può presentarsi a distanza di tempo e parleremo in questo caso di ecolalia differita. Negli anni passati le categorizzazioni riguardanti la funzione dell’ecolalia si sono susseguite ma questo paper vuole apportare alcuni dati in favore del valore comunicativo fondamentale sottostante la patologia, a seguito di un progressivo decremento degli studi di valenza pragmatico-linguistica inerenti al fenomeno.
Keywords: ecolalia, echolalia, citazione
Published in RUNG: 23.09.2021; Views: 1406; Downloads: 0
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Addressing the debate on pronoun reversal, caused by Theory of Mind or by Echolalia?
Greta Mazzaggio, invited lecture at foreign university

Abstract: Pronoun reversal is among the most interesting errors of early child language. It mainly consists in the substitution of I for you, and you for I; during these years, such reversal has often been associated mainly with Autistic Spectrum Disorder but recent studies have shown that the phenomena also occur in typically developing children with almost the same frequency (Evans, K.E., Demuth, K., 2012). Many theories on the cause of pronoun reversals have been proposed but the problem remains puzzling because a lot of children who reverse pronouns occasionally produce also correct forms. Moreover, it is a phenomenon which is not present in all the children (Dale, P.S., Crain- Thoreson, C., 1993). Of the two of the main hyphoteses related to pronoun reversal, one links it to a lack of a Theory of Mind (ToM), another relates it to echolalia. Based on two different surveys I conducted, I would like to address the debate. With the first study I wanted to verify whether pronoun reversals is related to a lack or to a non- mature development of ToM (Wechsler, S., 2010) testing a group of typically developing children with a series of ToM tasks ordered by a degree of complexity, from less to more complex. Then I created four tasks to verify their competence in using pronouns: focus position, pronoun with verb agreement, null form and pronouns other than first and second singular forms. We administered this experiment to a group of 17 Italian children - 38 to 70 months of age - because such tasks have never been performed before for Italian language. In this respect, Italian is more complex than English, mainly for two aspects: it’s a pro-drop language, that is a language in which some pronouns can be omitted if they are pragmatically inferable, and there is agreement between the subject pronoun and the verb, which is another factor that we must take into account. With the second study I analysed spontaneous speech uttered by a 15-years-old boy officially diagnosed with Kleefstra Syndrome and known to be a reverser, focusing on cases of pronoun reversal. At the end of the two studies I have data in favor of both ToM hypothesis and echolalia hypothesis. Further researches should verify if echolalia can be related with a lack of ToM and the differences in pronoun reversal between typically developing children and children with disorders.
Keywords: echolalia, language development, theory of mind, pronouns, pronoun reversal, autism developmental disorders
Published in RUNG: 22.09.2021; Views: 1843; Downloads: 0
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Autism and pronoun reversal : a theory-of-mind perspective
Greta Mazzaggio, 2014, master's thesis

Abstract: My project aimed at giving a personal contribution to an important international debate relevant to psycholinguistics. In particular, I studied the relationship between Theory of Mind (ToM) and the production of first- and second-person pronouns in typically developing children (TD) and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).Moving from the dense general framework of references I created an experimental protocol with the main goal to test the existent and newest hypotheses on ToM consequential development and on the differences between the phenomena of pronoun reversal (PR) in TD children and children with ASD, to have, at the end of the hypothetical experiment, some data that can prove a correlation between the phenomena of PR and a lack or a deficit in ToM. The newness of my experimental protocol is the Italian native children target; Italian language is pro-drop and it has the agreement between the subject pronoun and the verb, for this reason it has never been studied to find possible a validation of previous studies and theories on other languages.The experiment will be structured with two batteries of tests, the first that will be a translation and adaptation in Italian of Wellmann and Liu’s seven tasks (2004) to assess the level of Theory of Mind and to verify the consequentiality hypothesis, and the second, formed by two tasks, that will assess the level of production of first- and second-person pronouns, focusing on the phenomena of PR. The objective of my potential experiment is to find a correlation between the two phenomena cited above; it can be a good starting point for further analyses on the direction of this theorized connection.
Keywords: pronoun reversal, autism developmental disorders, theory of mind, echolalia, pronouns
Published in RUNG: 22.09.2021; Views: 1960; Downloads: 0
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La citazione meccanica : una rassegna sul fenomeno dell'ecolalia
Greta Mazzaggio, 2019, original scientific article

Abstract: For some people quoting is the only way to communicate. In some pathologies, the difficulty in creating declarative clauses can be partially overcome through alternative strategies such as the mechanical and stereotyped repetition of words or sentences spoken by another person. In the past, this phenomenon – known as echolalia – was considered as a deficiency to be corrected. This article explores the debate over the communicative value of echolalia, drawing upon some studies which have demonstrated how imitation can play an essential role in the communication of children with language disorders.
Keywords: echolalia, immediate echolalia, delayed echolalia, citation, italian
Published in RUNG: 17.09.2021; Views: 1660; Downloads: 59
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Echolalia as a communicative strategy : a Kleefstra-Syndrome case study
Greta Mazzaggio, 2019, original scientific article

Abstract: Echolalia – immediate or delayed – is the stereotyped and mechanical repetition of words and phrases produced by others. Experts used to view echolalia as a defect to eliminate; however, current research has shown that often imitation may serve a purpose for children with linguistic deficits. This study’s goal is to assess whether echolalia has communicative value; such purpose is achieved through the analysis of spontaneous speech and delayed echoes uttered by a 13- years-old boy officially diagnosed with Kleefstra Syndrome. Since there are no linguistic studies yet regarding this syndrome, this study may shed new light on a specific linguistic strategy that people with this syndrome might use. Based on the functional categories described by Prizant (1983), we analyzed the echolalic speech produced by this teen with the aim of demonstrating the pragmatic value behind those repetitions.
Keywords: communication, delayed echolalia, immediate echolalia, Kleefstra-Syndrome
Published in RUNG: 17.09.2021; Views: 1577; Downloads: 47
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