Abstract and Keywords

A common assumption is that communicative competence simply flows from some possibly innate by-product of vocal development. Understanding the dimensions of competence, or what in this chapter is called “communicative pragmatics,” can be summed up as answering the “wh” questions, the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why” of vocal performance. This chapter shows that songbirds and infants have to (a) learn how to use their signals though social modeling and social operant learning and (b) learn to lengthen their attention span so as to be able to acquire critical feedback from social companions. Of particular importance is the convergence of directed attention and vocalizations because individuals are able to receive both vocal and visual feedback to their behaviors.

Keywords: communicative competence, vocal development, communicative pragmatics, songbirds, social modeling, social operant learning, attention span

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