Speaker and hearer reference in Russian speaking children
The purpose of this research1 is to determine how Russian speaking children code the distinction between the speaker and the hearer. I refer to the corpora of two children: a girl, Varja and a boy, Kirill. The children’s data are compared with the data of their mothers’ speech. It is well known that the speaker and the hearer can be marked in two ways. One can use either standard forms of 1:SG and 2:SG (e.g. Chego ty vyp’jesh’? ‘What will you drink?’) or instead of them – forms of 3:SG (e.g. the mother says to Varja: Varja chego vyp'jet? ‘What will Varja drink?’). These two trends were noted in the analysed material. Kirill’s mother hardly ever used forms of 3:SG when marking the speaker and the speech addressee. Moreover, these forms were used rather on special ‘solemn’ occasions. A low percentage of these forms is observed in all the material. Similar results were noted in the boy’s corpus. The analyses of Varja’s and her mother’s data lead to completely different results. They both treated the forms of 3:SG as one of the normal ways of marking the speaker and the speech addressee. The percentage of those forms – both in the girl’s and her mother’s data – was high at the early stages, but it immediately dropped when Varja was about 2;0. As for the personal forms, it was only Varja who had problems with the proper use of them. She tended to use forms of 1:SG in order to mark the speech addressee and forms of 2:SG in order to mark the speaker. This phenomenon was limited in time and probably connected with the specific language-learning strategy adopted by the girl.
KeywordsLanguage Development Verbal Form Personal Pronoun Input Language Child Language
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