Justifications in young children’s language in an early childhood classroom

Cobb-Moore, Charlotte (2007) Justifications in young children’s language in an early childhood classroom. In 10th International Pragmatics Conference , 8-13 July 2007, Göteborg, Sweden. (Unpublished)

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This paper examines the interactional phenomenon of justification as it is produced in young children’s language. A justification provides a reason for one’s position and can be produced in children’s language at an early age. There are various pragmatic reasons for justifications. For example, justifications may be drawn upon by members to compensate for the disruption of the existing social order or to explain something that is possibly questionable. Justifications are also drawn upon to extend or close disputes. This study uses the analytical techniques of conversation analysis and membership categorisation to analyse video-recorded and transcribed interactions of young children (aged 4-6 years) in a preparatory classroom in a primary school in Australia. The focus is an episode that occurred within the block play area of the classroom that involved a dispute of ownership relating to a small, wooden plank. In analysing this dispute, justifications were frequent occurrences and the young participants drew upon justificatory devices in their everyday arguments. As the turns surrounding the justificatory language were examined, a pattern emerged: in each excerpt observed, a justification arose in response to a challenge. This pattern provided the basis for developing a model that helped to discern where, why and what type of justifications occurred in the interaction. To depict this interactional phenomenon, the model of ‘if x, then y’ was used, ‘x’ referring to the challenge or prompt, and ‘y’ referring to the justificatory response. Justifications related to the concepts of ownership and were used as devices by those engaged in disputes to support their positions and provide reasons for their actions. The children drew upon these child-constructed rules as resources to use in disputes with their peers, in order to construct and maintain the social order of the block area in the classroom.

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ID Code: 28248
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: child interaction, justification, early childhood, social order, rules
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > LINGUISTICS (200400) > Discourse and Pragmatics (200403)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood & Inclusive Education
Deposited On: 27 Oct 2009 03:43
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2009 03:43

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