Golse Bernard

Acquiring Language or Learning to Speak

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After a few reflections on the winnicottian “sense of beingµ, which allows us to distinguish the sense of being from the sense of existing, the author presents the processual gradient that leads from the index to the sign via the necessary passage through the work of semiotisation by the other. The article then focuses on the distinction between acquisition (endogenous) and learning (exogenous) and on the two-and-a-half-year crisis which marks the child’s access to sufficient internal security to tackle learning at school. From this perspective, the question then arises as to whether language is acquired or learnt, insofar as it has to be considered as an object of joint attention and/or as a transitional phenomenon. In the light of these various reflections, the author finally criticizes certain simplistic educational programmes aimed solely at a quantitative enrichment of language, given that achieving access to language cannot take place without the pleasure shared between child and adult.


  • Acquisitions
  • Index
  • Joint Attention
  • Language
  • Learnings
  • Sense of Being
  • Sign
  • Signal
  • Transitionality
  • Two-and-a-Half-Year Crisis


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