LINGUIST List 15.1153

Thu Apr 8 2004

Diss: Pragmatics: Castro: 'From the Mouth...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


  1. or, From the Mouth of Babes...

Message 1: From the Mouth of Babes...

Date: Wed, 7 Apr 2004 23:30:02 -0400 (EDT)
From: or < or"> or>
Subject: From the Mouth of Babes...

Institution: University of the Philippines
Program: Ph.D. in English Studies: Language
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Maria Corazon Saturnina Aspeli Castro

Dissertation Title: From the Mouth of Babes: A Pragmatic Analysis
of Children's Responses to Questions

Linguistic Field: Pragmatics

Subject Language: English (code: ENG)

Dissertation Director 1: Helen Estacio Lopez
Dissertation Director 2: Maria Clara Valera Ravina
Dissertation Director 3: Rosalina Bumatay Cruz

Dissertation Abstract:

This study reveals the important role of adult input in the
development of children's communicative competence. The results of
the investigation show that the mothers asked more questions that were
meant to gauge the children's linguistic and cognitive
development. The mothers also used a lot of communication techniques
and strategies that help the children develop their pragmatic skills
such as turn-taking, initiating, maintaining and closing
conversations, noticing and responding to non-verbal features of the
interaction, observing conversational principles and knowing how to
respond to questions. 

In general, the children's responses expressed the representational,
expressive, social, and tutorial functions of language. A big
percentage of the children's responses were found to be
representational--that is to say, the use of language to talk about
things in the environment. As the children became more mature
conversational partners, they moved from one functional mode to
another depending on their intents, moods, the behavior of their
interlocutors, and some other factors in the environment.

The children's responses exhibited four forms--the fill-in,
elliptical, mixed forms, and the complete forms. The forms served
pragmatic functions as they indicated the mood, attitudes,and
intentions of the children.

Finally, the study reveals that the children were able to
adopt conversational strategies that helped them stay focused in the
conversation and repair any impending breakdown in
communication. These conversational strategies included various kinds
of repetition, contingent queries, and gestural support.
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