Defining language – theory of mind

“[L]anguage is a system of communication that enables one to understand, predict, and influence the action of others. Inherent in this definition is a concept of theory of mind: if communication is instinctual rather than having a purpose, then it should probably not be considered a language. If communication has a purpose, this assumes an awareness of other independent actors, whose actions can potentially be influenced…. [F]or communication to serve the needs of the listener as well as the needs of the speaker, the listener must be able to understand what the speaker is ‘really’ saying. It is not enough to understand the literal meaning of speech.” ~ R Grant Steen, (quoted Krause pp.13-14)

I read this quote and thought again of the link between autism and/or aspergers, and metaphor use – as well as the apparent focus on communication that predominates in studies of children’s use of metaphor.

Ref: Kenneth W Krause (2008) Mapping Metaphor: This is your brain on figurative language. The Humanist July-August, pp.13-16

About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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