A language-based, three-stage, social-interactional model of social pretend play: Acquiring pretend as an epistemic operator, pretending that, and pretending with (the P–PT–PW model)

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Abstract

I present a language-based, social-interactional, three-stage model of pretend play in which the cornerstone is children's understanding of pretend as an epistemic operator that changes the truth value of others’ utterances. First, children crack into language by comparing their own representations of reality with others’ utterances regarding reality, and they acquire negation, irrealis, and pretend, epistemic operators that impact the truth value of others’ utterances, with pretend (P) indicating transitions from truthfully-described worlds to fictional worlds, meaning that truth values are not to be applied to others’ utterances. This sets the stage for children to create fictional worlds for themselves, with their understanding of the epistemic operator pretend forging with their ability to conduct thought transformations to yield pretend that (PT), first based on perceptually-coupled thought transformations that draw on perceptual similarity to transform physically-available objects, and later, based on perceptually-decoupled thought transformations that draw on long-term memory to create imaginary and mentalizing transformations. Next, in pretend with (PW), children use their emerging metarepresentational skills to engage in social pretend play, comparing their own representations of reality with those of others and creating mappings between others’ representations of the real world and the fictional world that their utterances engender in both their own and in others’ minds. In mind play, these abilities merge in the strategic use of pretend with to create fictional worlds for others in non-play contexts. The model highlights children's engagement in social pretend play as part of a language-based, social enterprise centered on maintaining interaction with others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-37
Number of pages37
JournalDevelopmental Review
Volume41
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

Keywords

  • Epistemic operators
  • Irrealis
  • Negation
  • Pretend play
  • Thought transformations
  • Truth value

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