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.
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