Pragmatic Socialization: Parental Input to Preschoolers

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Little is known about parents’ pragmatic input and the ways it contributes to preschoolers’ acquisition of pragmatic competence. In order to address this issue, five families with preschoolers were asked to audiotape everyday family interactions over the course of one year. Parents provided a great deal of input about 15 different behaviors that included both pragmatic phrases and more abstract discourse skills. Input fell into 13 different categories. It typically addressed children's errors and omissions and was indirect. The results replicate and extend previous research and offer insights into preschoolers’ acquisition of pragmatic competence. It is suggested that parental input provides rich information about pragmatic behaviors and conventions, that indirectness forces children to generate appropriate responses, and that children play an active role in the acquisition process.

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Discourse Processes, v. 17, issue 1, p. 131-148