How do children learn to talk? This fundamental question continues to be a subject of lively and contentious debate among linguists and psychologists. Originally published in 1980, Dr McShane's discerning analysis of the theoretical issues involved takes account of the contribution of speech-act theory and of Gricean meaning theory to our understanding of communication. The wide-ranging discussion of the work of other researchers provides the reader with a clear perspective in which to assess Dr McShane's own approach. Dr McShane shows that limited, but effective, communication is possible in the absence of words, and then traces the genesis of communication through the one-word stage to the development of grammatically structured utterances. His arguments are supported by data from the longitudinal study he carried out with six children between the ages of one and two years. This study and its implications were important for all those professionally interested in language development.