Responses to requests in the dialogues of mothers and their stage I children

N. J. Scherer, T. E. Coggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The development of conversation requires children to learn to relate their utterances to utterances from other speakers. This investigation examined one method in which children relate their utterances to preceding utterances in conversation, namely, response utterances to request utterances. Late Stage I children's responses were examined for their pragmatic and semantic relationships to five types of requests used by mothers. Conditional (child responses to mother's requests) and unconditional (child responses following mother's utterances) probabilities were generated using the lag sequential analysis. The level of significant difference between the conditional and unconditional probabilities was determined with the binomial distribution. The results indicate that the children produced contingent linguistic responses to the mothers' requests based on the pragmatic intent of the requests - specifically, those requesting semantic information, clarifying a misunderstood remark, and requesting agreement or disagreement with a proposition. Further the children's responses to the mothers' requests for semantic information provided the appropriate semantic information requested by the mothers. The children produced contingent nonlinguistic responses to the mothers' requests for an action to be performed, whereas contingent nonlinguistic or linguistic responses following the mothers' requests for attention failed to achieve significance. These findings indicate that responses to requests are important in the development of early contingent speech and provide one means for structuring conversation with Late Stage I children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-64
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Speech and Hearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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