ERIC Number: ED205053
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Oct
Reference Count: 0
Children's Requests to Unfamiliar Adults: Form, Social Function, Age Variation.
Gordon, David Paul; And Others
Elementary school students were required to obtain objects from two adults engaged in conversation with each other. Results differed markedly between older and younger children. For the younger children, (1) there were three times as many statement requests (SRs) as interrogative requests (IRs); (2) almost 50% of requests were need statements; (3) only one statement of external motivation occurred; (4) possession and existence questions were rare; and (5) requests consisted of one sentence, single clause utterances. For older children, (1) there were equal numbers of SRs and IRs, (2) fewer than 15% of requests were need statements, (3) external motivation statements were frequent, (4) 50% of IRs were possession or existence questions, and (5) many complex requests of two or more sentences or clauses were produced. The differences were found not to arise because of constraints on grammatical or semantic abilities, but to reflect the child's social knowledge and sense of contextual appropriateness. The dimension of change is not simply marked politeness, but level of social understanding. The changes are discussed by applying the differences to notions of speech act felicity conditions, speech conventions, social concepts of behavioral justification, and the child's view of his/her relation to adults. (Author/JB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Etiquette; Questions; Speech Acts
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (5th, Boston, MA, October 1980).