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Expressing communicative intents in Estonian, Finnish, and Swedish mother–adolescent interactions



The present article focused on two types of communicative intent (directing behaviour vs. eliciting talk) expressed by mothers and teenagers during everyday family interactions in Estonian, Finnish, and Swedish mono- and bicultural families. Three monocultural groups consisted of 17 Estonian, 19 Swedish, and 18 Finnish families living in their country of origin; two bicultural and bilingual groups consisted of 18 Estonian and 18 Finnish families residing in Sweden. All the children were between 9;0 and 13;0. The results revealed that the Estonian monocultural mothers were highly directive and direct: issuing behavioural directives most frequently and using the highest proportion of imperatives among all samples. Contrary to our expectations, the mothers who tended to be more concerned with controlling their children's behaviour also elicited conversation more frequently from teenagers by using a larger number of information requests. These requests seemed to serve as another form of attempted control over adolescents' behaviour – their communicative behaviour. The Swedish monocultural children were more active in controlling their mothers' behaviour than their counterparts, possibly illustrating the Swedish value of generational equality.


Corresponding author

Department of Psychology, University of Tartu, Tiigi 78–336, 50410 Tartu, Estonia. tel: (372 7) 375906; fax: (372 7) 375900; e-mail:


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Research for this article was supported by the Baltic Sea Foundation in Sweden (grant No. 31103) and the Estonian Science Foundation (grant No. 4629). The authors would also like to thank the participants of the study, Enn Veldi for proofreading our manuscript, and Marja-Terttu Tryggvason for the Finnish and Swedish-Finnish data.



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