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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/wat7-4s91


AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

ACYIG Invited Session: Highlighting Language through Repair Practices in Children's Interactions (Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group)


children and youth


language socialization

This roundtable explores mechanisms through which children and their caregivers make language salient as an object in ongoing discourse. We focus especially on repairs (Schegloff et al. 1977), recasts (Chouinard and Clark 2003), repetitions (Rossi 2020), replacements (Sidnell and Barnes 2013), and recycling of prior talk (Goodwin 2018), primarily by children and youth, but also by caregivers and other members of children’s communicative environment, as they give evidence of and socialize metalinguistic awareness of children. For the child, these practices are a way of demonstrating linguistic and sociocultural knowledge, while for caregivers, they are a socialization tool of that knowledge. Repairs, recasts, and the like are phenomena that make explicit reflexivity in language, a topic that has long been a cornerstone of linguistic anthropology (Silverstein 1976; Babcock 1980; Bauman and Briggs 1990). The capacity of discourse to simultaneously function as medium and object of communication lies at the heart of metapragmatic phenomena such as reported speech, translation, deictics, or poetics (Lucy 1993; Silverstein 1993). All of these make different aspects of discourse salient and thus “highlight” (Goodwin 1994) them in more or less explicit ways. In this roundtable, we focus on mechanisms that specifically draw attention to the code (sensu Jakobson 1956). While this is often accomplished by explicitly talking about it • for example, “correcting” someone’s pronunciation, teaching a word or a phoneme of a language, or otherwise commenting on some aspect of discourse • it can also be accomplished without the use of overtly metapragmatic expressions through repairs, recasts, and parallel phenomena. In some cases, such strategies explicitly foreground language as an object in the child’s consciousness. In others, the linguistic competencies and ideologies remain largely implicit and in the background. Yet all of them make the code available as object of attention in discourse. We will discuss short examples of such interactional highlighting of the code through repair sequences, reformulations, recasts, and replacements in Armenian•Russian•English kindergartens in Armenia, a Breton-medium secondary school in Brittany, France, a bilingual English•Japanese heritage language classroom, an indigenous Aché village in eastern Paraguay, Tibetan children in Canada, and between French and English-speaking parents and their children in France. Some of the practices examined involve substitutions that replace constituents from one language with equivalent ones from another, others involve multimodal recasts, verbally reformulating gestures and other nonverbal behavior. At stake are ideologies of standardization, of speaking “beautifully,” of speech as primary medium of expression, and of boundary maintenance, creation, and crossing between languages. In different ways, all of these practices make the code available as a discursive and phenomenological object and thus provide crucial tools for children not only to demonstrate linguistic and sociocultural knowledge, but also to actively and creatively manipulate linguistic resources, taking responsibility for their linguistic futures into their own hands.


Transcript English (automatic)

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