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Lecture 15

PSY3136 Lecture 15: Sociolinguistic Development

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Christopher Fennell

L15 Sociolinguistic Development Social Competence: using situationally appropriate language in the right register, taking into account social status and cognitive abilities of listener. Violating this can lead to social sanctions, from dirty looks to jail time. (ie. not being popular in school, to verbal harassment and hate speech) Parental modelling is the biggest influence on social competence in language, but some argue that biology drives it as well. i. Teaching: “say please” ii. Prompting: “say the magic word” iii. Reinforcement and punishment of social appropriate behaviours Socially adequate behaviour predicts popularity among peers by age 3/5. Referential Communication: Trying to communicate with someone and convey information, situational awareness must succeed pragmatics. Conveying information in reference to something else. Experiment: Needed to test the level of Piagetian egocentrism within a child, could they give instructions to another child? The first child watched a video of a pirate hiding a treasure key, memory of this event was tested and controlled for. Then the first child was told to direct the second child to where the key is through a one-way mirror. This is called the divided array task. The experiment was coded for pragmatics (ex. expansions, did the kid correct or repair), descriptive accuracy, etc. Kids begin to get better at this around ages 5-7. Mechanical Tap Study: by Piaget in the 1920s. Children were showed how to work a mechanical tap and then then the first group of children were told to explain this task to other children. Children are not good at this before the age of 6. Divided Array Tasks (More modern than mechanical tap study!): The experimenter explains how do to a puzzle without the child because there is physical barrier. Then the children must convey this information to other children. Situational Appropriateness i. Indirect Communication: Could you please maybe pick up my book if you have time? ii. Direct Communication: Pick up my book. → These types of communication can be determined as polite or impolite depending on the social status of the conversational partner. For example, in Italian it is polite to use indirect communication with older people and women. Signora Rossi Study: An older woman puppet (named Signora Rossi) would give candy to the children if they were being polite. Younger children were not as polite at older children, but even 2 year olds had more than one “form” of politeness and were more indirect when asked to be nicer. Three year olds had varied forms of politenes. Four year olds have child-directed speech patterns, they use simpler constructions of works and shorter MLU (mean length of utterance). But these children talk less that parental infant directed speech. Taboo Words: adds to and is indicative of the emotionality of language, but also a part of sociolinguistics in that you cannot use such words with a large part of the population. - appears in the first two years and continues to develop throughout the life
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