ERIC Number: ED264043
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1985
Reference Count: N/A
The "Motherese" of Mr. Rogers: A Description of the Dialogue of Educational Television Programs.
Rice, Mabel L.; Haight, Patti L.
Dialogue from 30-minute samples from "Sesame Street" and "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" was coded for grammar, content, and discourse. Grammatical analysis used the LINGQUEST computer-assisted language assessment program (Mordecai, Palen, and Palmer 1982). Content coding was based on categories developed by Rice (1984) and consisted of counts of immediacy, emphasis, nonliteral meanings, novel words, and explicit instructions regarding the interpretation of content. Discourse categories were four types of narratives proposed by Health and Branscombe: recounts, accounts, event casts, and stories. Findings indicated that the programs' dialogue was appropriate to young viewers, showing adjustments like those made by adults speaking to young children. Mean length of utterance was comparable to that of adults in interactions with children, the ratio of different words to total words equaled that of young children's language, sentence structure was simplified, and there was a pronounced emphasis on the here and now, as evidenced by a majority of present tense verbs, a high proportion of utterances about immediately visible topics or referents, and a preponderance of event casts as narrative structure. Repeated instances of linguistic emphasis were found, with frequent repetition of key terms. Both programs avoided complex word forms. Overall, the dialogue of educational children's programs follows the constraints and adjustments found in adults' child-directed language. (Author/RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL.; National Inst. of Mental Health (DHHS), Rockville, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Mean Length of Utterance