The Form and Function of Speech Act Exchanges in Children's Dyadic interactions


The present study evaluated form/function distinctions in the speech act exchanges between dyad partners. Based on sociometric nominations and ratings, second-and sixth-grade girls were paired in three dyad types: mutual friends, unilateral friends, or acquaintances. Each dyad was videotaped for 20 min while performing two tasks: a question-asking task and a puzzle task. Five speech act exchange forms (which involved an initiation by one child and a response by the other) were coded. Two of the exchange forms (question followed by response to question, nonverbal acknowledgments) served a single communicative function, and their use was influenced by the demands of the task (question and puzzle, respectively). The remaining three exchange forms served multiple communicative functions and their use was influenced by a combination of factors (grade, social relationship, task). As the number of communicative functions served by an exchange form increased, the number of variables that affected its use also increased. The present research extends the consideration of the form/function relation from the level of a single speech act as in previous research, to the level of speech act exchanges, and argues that dyad partners collaborate in a conversation to select the form used for the communicative function at hand. © 1994, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Discourse Processes