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Mother conversational behaviour as a function of interactional intent*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Lynda McDonald
Affiliation:
Wright State University
Diana Pien
Affiliation:
Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center

Abstract

Previous research has suggested that the syntactic and semantic characteristics of mother speech are determined by the underlying intention of mothers to control (Newport 1977) or to converse with (Snow 1977) the child. The present study attempts to delineate the structure among functionally categorized mother conversational behaviours, especially those which might reflect the mother's intention to control or converse with her child. The utterances of II mothers with their children (aged 2; 5–3; 0) were categorized according to their illocutionary force or function. Conversational parameters, such as topic change rate and talkativeness, were also measured. Intercorrelations among all these mother variables showed a polarized pattern, reflecting two predominant mother intentions for conversational interaction: the control of the child's physical actions, and the elicitation of his conversational participation. Implications of the findings, especially those indicating the incompatibility of controlling and conversation-eliciting intentions, are discussed.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1982

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Footnotes

[*]

Portions of this paper were submitted by the first author in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree at the University of Oregon, and were presented at the convention of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, April 1981. Our thanks to Dr Solomon Fulero, who provided very helpful critical and editorial assistance, and to our undergraduate assistants, especially Vicki Hult. Address for correspondence: L. McDonald, Psychology Deparment, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, 45435, U.S.A.

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