ERIC Number: ED163777
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Aug
Reference Count: 0
How Children Ask and Tell: A Speech Act Analysis of Children's Requests. Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, No. 13.
Bock, J. Kathryn; Hornsby, Mary E.
The ability of children at different ages to distinguish instructions to "ask" from instructions to "tell" and the types of structures used to express these directives were studied. Subjects were 120 children, aged 2 years 6 months to 6 years 6 months. Children were instructed to either ask or tell an adult or another child to give them puzzle pieces. The dependent measures were the politeness of the directives used by the children, as determined from adult ratings, and the syntactic form (imperative, interrogative, or declarative) of the directives. Results suggest that children become more polite, in adult eyes, as they grow older, and they are more polite when instructed to ask than when instructed to tell. Children can productively distinguish instructions to ask from instructions to tell, but older children do so more reliably. This finding suggests that they recognize and are able to convey the differences in illocutionary force authorized by the two words. Children used imperatives more frequently to tell than to ask, and interrogatives more frequently to ask than to tell. Declaratives were employed frequently by the younger children, but rarely by the older children. While older children were more polite to adults than to children, the 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds were more polite to other children. (SW)
Descriptors: Child Language, Cognitive Development, Cognitive Processes, Communication Skills, Comprehension, Intellectual Development, Interaction Process Analysis, Language Acquisition, Language Research, Linguistic Competence, Listening Comprehension, Longitudinal Studies, Preschool Children, Psycholinguistics, Sentence Structure, Speech Communication, Syntax, Verbal Development, Verbs
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Stanford Univ., CA. Dept. of Linguistics.