Year 13: STUDENT ANSWER JUNE 2007 Question 1 Unit 6 — Child Language Acquisition

9 June 2009

Lexical Choice
It appears that Ewan becomes a bit worried that he will cause Holy to drop out of their role play game, due to his aggressive tone. He repeats the proper noun ‘Holly’ in order to grab her attention and says the verb ‘playing’ once again using a declarative where he should be using an interrogative. He senses Holly’s disinterest in the game by his imperative “don’t go home yet Holly”. As soon as his is reassured of her interest in the game, he immediately reverts to his bossy nature again. We can see this when Holly says “that’s my money” to which he replies “no that’s my money”. He is already aware of the idea that the person with the money carries the power.

Discourse and Conversation Structure
It follows in a very tentative fashion the structure e.g. turn taking, of the conversation used in a shop between a customer and shopkeeper; for example line 11 of text B;
Holly: Do you like cashback
Holly: no not yet
Holly: How much is that
Ewan: Ten p please

Mostly though, the discourse structure, is about negotiating how the game will be played. Therefore there are questions asked about what should be done and who should play what roles. Also, the players make suggestions as to what they should do in the game, however, it appears to be Holy who is setting the tone, giving the ideas and a clear grasp of the conversational structure in this context. For example, she makes a number of suggestions;
Holly: come and buy something (2) come and buy anything
Holly is making a helpful suggestion, but as the pause implies, she gets no response from Ewan, and hence, sounds desperate in her following choice of lexis. This also highlights her interest in the game compared to Ewan’s lack of at this stage; however, later on the roles appear to switch, when Ewan feels a chance to seize some power.

Holly: would you like cashback
Ewan: Do you like cashback
Holly: Yes please

Holly once again appears more advanced as she is using the conditional verb form, which is very advanced for a girl of this age. Ewan, however, does not know how to use the conditional, but nonetheless, sees the opportunity to seize the floor. He uses the ungrammatical question “do you like cashback”, when he really means “would you like cashback”. And then Holly accepts the role of the customer without protest, despite the fact that it’s clear that being the customer is an inferior role.


Hollie is clearly trying to bring further imaginative dimensions to the play. The sentence ‘now you say, would you like cashback’ shows her further knowledge and attempt to apply it to play to give herself more power. However Ewan refuses to comply with her instructions, saying instead, ‘do you like cashback?’ and frequently saying this out of turn.

When they discuss holiday destinations it becomes a competition over who’s been on the most prestigious holiday. Ewan encourages to ‘go Blackpool’ with the train ticket to which Hollie replies, ‘Blackpool is a horrible place’, and ‘Magalluf is a much nicer place’. Ewan insists but ‘but my Blackpool is nice’ but it is obvious that Hollie’s holiday sounds more exotic and expensive, thus she wins in the battle of prestige.

Gender and Power
“No Me Shopkeeper”
Clearly the conversation opens with Ewan protesting that he wants to take the role of being the shopkeeper. He clearly feels that the role of being the shopkeeper is of greater prestige and importance than being the customer, and hence, assigns the role to himself. This is a imperative statement in the guise of a declarative, but comes across in this form due to his lack of grammatical knowledge. He telegraphs the phrase “I want to be the shopkeeper” into “me shopkeeper”. This is a phase of language development that all children go through, however, on occasions he does have more carefully structured statements.

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