ERIC Number: ED169787
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Jun
Reference Count: 0
Form and Function in Mother-Toddler Conversational Turn-Taking, Occasional Paper No. 5.
Donahue, Mavis L.
Most studies of language acquisition overlook the fact that a child learns language in the context of acquiring the social skill of conversing known as "turn-taking." The few studies of verbal turn-taking in children suggest that prosodic features (suprasegmentals) and turn-taking skills are integrated by the age of two years, nine months, and that prosodic patterns may play an important role in calibrating turn-taking. This study sought to determine what happens in the second year of life to facilitate this process. Subjects for this study were four mother-toddler dyads. The children, two boys and two girls, ranged in age from 12 to 19 months at the start of the study. Half-hour samples of each dyad's conversations were audiotaped and videotaped every two to three weeks for seven to nine months. A coding system was devised to categorize utterances within conversational exchanges. Two strategies of conversational turn-taking were discerned among the dyads: (1) one demonstrating that conversation is symmetrical and imitative; and (2) the other indicating that conversation is asymmetrical and complementary. The evolution of these strategies can be described in three phases, involving: (1) conversation-initiating strategies; (2) response-turn strategies; and (3) an increase in the use of function-based response-turns. The study suggests that children learn formal conversational conventions which effectively calibrate the language addressed to them long before the appearance of two-word constructions. (AM)
Descriptors: Child Language, Communicative Competence (Languages), Comprehension, Intellectual Development, Intonation, Language Acquisition, Language Patterns, Language Research, Longitudinal Studies, Parent Child Relationship, Phonology, Preschool Children, Psycholinguistics, Semantics, Stress (Phonology), Suprasegmentals, Syntax
Institute for Research on Teaching, College of Education, Michigan State University, 252 Erickson Hall, East Lansing, Michigan 48824 ($1.75)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Michigan State Univ., East Lansing. Inst. for Research on Teaching.