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The linguistic marking of agentivity and control in child language*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2009

Nancy Budwig
Affiliation:
Clark University

Abstract

The present study examines the relationship between linguistic forms and the functions they serve in children's early talk about agentivity and control. The spontaneous linguistic productions of six children ranging between 1;8 and 2;8 served as the data base. Preliminary analyses of who the children referred to and what forms were used in subject position suggest that the children could be divided into two groups. Three children primarily referred to Self and relied on multiple Self reference forms in subject position, while the other children referred to both Self and Other and primarily used the Self reference form, I. A functional analysis was carried out to examine whether the seemingly interchangeable use of Self reference forms could be related to semantic and pragmatic patterns. The findings indicate that at a time before they regularly refer to others, the children systematically employed different Self reference forms to mark distinct perspectives on agency.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1989

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Footnotes

*

Many people have contributed to the formulation of this research. I would especially like to thank Michael Bamberg, Susan Ervin-Tripp, Julie Gerhardt, John Gumperz, Dan Slobin and Robert Van Valin for helpful comments.

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