Volume 2   Number 1      Fall 2007

On Abbreviation: Dialogue in Early Life 
Maria C. D. P. Lyra
Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil
pp. 15-44   (pdf)
ABSTRACT. The development process of the mother-infant communication system is described as historical systems of relationships allowing for the emergence of self-organization patterns of this system. Three organizational patterns are proposed: establishment, extension and abbreviation. Each corresponds to typical manners of dialoguing. I will concentrate on the analysis of abbreviation, with the aim of inferring a concomitant dyadic achievement: (1) the emergence of a new space, broader than the immediate space of the actual partners’ actions and (2) the infant’s differentiation of his/her own position in the dialogue. Three interrelated characteristics of abbreviation contribute toward the present analysis: decreased duration and turn-takings, increased variability of abbreviated exchanges and the progressive inclusion of new partners’ actions in abbreviated dialogues. The dyad abbreviates the dialogical exchanges in flexible and innovative ways, thereby suggesting that the infant learned a totality regarding the relationship, and not a point-by-point contingency of actions. It is my contention that abbreviated dialogues require mutual knowledge in which an emergent new space allows for the infant’s differentiation of his/her own position in the dialogue.
Keywords: dialogue in infancy; communication development; self-organizing patterns; abbreviation; infant’s positioning differentiation