|| Date: 20-12-20 ||
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|| Tag: book-summary ||
|| Author: Jean Piaget ||
Language and Thought of the Child - Jean Piaget
function of language in two children of six
The needs of a child when they use language is strictly functional: not
linguistic or logical.
the child can play by themselves or with others. In the mind of the
child, there will be imaginary characters and plays and movement away
from the super-ego of society.
types of language for the child
- egocentric and social
for the ego-centric, it is either a repetition, monologue, or a
Mostly just the kid repeating things to themselves, without a care
for any audience: it’s important to know here that this happens
because the child has very little concept of the “self” and the
difference between it and the “Other”. In this confusion between
dialogue and monologue, the child makes a game and has fun with it.
this is different than repetition. The child here doesn’t have a
social function but wants to supplement his action with words.
Occurs when the child talks about themselves but wants an audience
to reflect. They might ignore the audience’s questions but it’s
important to have one.
the child here wants to express an idea but the end goal was
satisfied after they worked it out loud.
This happens to adults too: after someone says something and works
out a problem, it doesn’t matter what the rest say: they are just
This form is the first social communication tool the child has
the rest above were called ego-centric since they are really about
the child, not the audience.
- “No, this is 10 o’clock”
- “This is a big village. Do you see it?”
Sentences like that are social instances that are meant to influence
or do something with the listener.
this is the first form of dialogue: if a dialogue occurs, this can
improve their logic and understanding of fallacies, since you’re
confronted with that situation where you have to adapt.
the question “why” doesn’t come up: the dialogue, if it happens, is
merely an exchange of assertions:
You will marry me! No, I won’t Yes, I will No!
The question “why” or the word “because” came only at the age of 7
Children speak egocentrically even when in an audience. This is
opposed to an adult, who speaks socially and thinks socially
regardless if he was alone or not.
We as humans learn to speak first to organize our own thoughts way
before we start using our voice to communicate with others.
Psycho-analysts recognize two voices:
- the active voice: representing consciousness
- the autistic voice: representing the sub-conscience
take water: the active voice is the discriminating voice that says
this is h2o
the subconscious voice would never communicate in language but
images, and it would communicate the images of fecundity, birth (of
aphrodite), baptism, and richness that are symbols represented in
On egocentrism of children
The author’s experiments show clearly that children have a hard time
understanding each other under the age of 7. They understand adults a
bit better, though.
The author concludes that most of the language with children under the
age of seven is almost entirely ego-centric or revolving around things
that are going inside the speaker’s brain, with practically no regard to
the objective world.
There was a story that a kid was relaying after hearing it. He was
saying “the lady had 12 children. She picked him (who?) and asked
him about them (who?). And then she went to the place (which
place?), Where she played with the other tree”.
the above story and instances show that the child finds very little
use of rationalizing their thoughts and fleshing it out more than
author says this is so not because the kid doesn’t care, but because
they genuinely think they are understood entirely. This is expected
since all adults around them easily predict all their small and
predictable needs (food, toilet, games). Why wouldn’t think that
EVERYONE understands them and can “read their minds”? Why do you need to
articulate your thoughts if someone can just know what you’re thinking?
Verbal syncretism means an understanding of one sentence using another
similar one, using general schemas
author says that it’s been proven that a human understands things not by
examining them thoroughly, but by examining the general parts of it and
having a general shape around it to work with.
So, if I flash a word fast in front of you, you might still be able
to read it because your brain database of words understands this
shape and corresponds it to a word you know
many children surprisingly can use this syncretism to connect quite
complex things they don’t understand together.
many children do use the same schema but connect them in very broken
for example, a 10-year-old was given a few sentences, among them was
“when the cats out, mice go out and play” and “some people waste
their time doing nothing”. The kid connected it, saying they are
referring to the same thing. His rationale was that when the cat is
tired, she will go to sleep. Just like people who get tired and
don’t wanna do anything. The general schema is similar, but they are
not the same.
- this is an application of verbal syncretism though
The ego-centric mind (children between 4-7) needs to justify things at
to do this justification, the idea of verbal syncretism comes into
play: concepts are mashed together under a common umbrella by
reducing (sometimes incorrectly) things into a general schema that
For example, a child was asked to compare the two sentences “to each
according to his works” and “some people get very excited and they don’t
do anything” and find why are they similar. The child did not understand
the word “according”. They replaced it with the word “coming to” in their
minds. Their answer to why the two proverbs are similar was “because
people went and did nothing. The proverb people went and did something”.
Verbal syncretism is a state in-between a dreamlike“symbolism” and a very
rational and logical state. It mixed things when it needs to without
regard for structure and discards that things it can’t handle or process.
This is, in the long term, very economical.
Only at the ages of 11 or 12 does the child answer “I don’t know” or “who
knows?”. Before that, the brain is living in a state where it thinks it
understands everything and connects the dots it needs to connect by just
“reaching” to where it needs to go, disregarding any obstacles.