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Academic Paper

Title: Characteristics of Maternal Verbal Style: Responsiveness and directiveness in two natural contexts
Author: Valerie Flynn
Institution: Aurora University
Author: Elise Frank Masur
Institution: Northern Illinois University
Linguistic Field: Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics; Sociolinguistics
Abstract: Twenty mothers' provision of responsive, supportive behavioural directive, and intrusive behavioural and attentional directive speech was investigated during interactions with their children at ages 0;10, 1;1, 1;5 and 1;9 in two natural contexts, free play and bathtime. Issues examined included developmental change, contextual differences, consistency across contexts and stability over time. Analyses revealed increases in frequencies of maternal responsive and supportive directive utterances and decreases in maternal intrusive directives with age. Differences between contexts included more speech and supportive directiveness during play than bath. Responsiveness and intrusive attentional directiveness demonstrated considerable consistency and stability. Mothers provided greater responsiveness to girls than to boys, but more intrusive directives to boys than to girls. Mothers' production of supportive and intrusive directives was unrelated, and their rates of responsive speech were inversely associated with their rates of intrusive directive speech, highlighting the importance of distinguishing between supportive and intrusive directiveness.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 34, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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