How children talk about a conversation
This study investigates how children of different ages talk about a conversation that they have witnessed. 48 Turkish children, five, nine and thirteen years in age, saw a televised dialogue between two Sesame Street characters (Bert and Ernie). Afterward, they narrated what they had seen and heard. Their reports were analysed for the development of linguistic devices used to orient their listeners to the relevant properties of a conversational exchange. Each utterance in the child's narrative was analysed as to its conversational role: (1) whether the child used direct or indirect quotation frames; (2) whether the child marked the boundaries of conversational turns using speakers' names and (3) whether the child used a marker for pairing of utterances made by different speakers (agreement-disagreement, request-refusal, questioning-answering). Within pairings, children's use of (a) the temporal and evaluative connectivity markers and (b) the kind of verb of saying were identified. The data indicate that there is a developmental change in children's ability to use appropriate linguistic means to orient their listeners to the different properties of a conversation. The development and use of these linguistic means enable the child to establish different social roles in a narrative interaction. The findings are interpreted in terms of the child's social-communicative development from being a ' character' to becoming a ' narrator' and ' author' of the reported conversation in the narrative situation.
Publication typeJournal article