Article in:Interactional Linguistics: Online-First Articles
Adult-Child and child-adult co-construction of ‘but’-clauses
The present study examines the development of ‘but’-introduced clauses in adult-toddler conversations, distinguishing between autonomous productions (I wanna stay but we need to go) and adult-child co-constructed uses (Adult: we’re going home, Child: but I wanna stay). Analyses covered all adult and child aval ‘but’ uses in three longitudinal Hebrew corpora (age-range: 1;5–3;3), showing that: (1) both adults and children mostly use aval ‘but’ in co-construction rather than autonomously; (2) adults begin co-constructing ‘but’-clauses with children months before the children start using ‘but’, mostly by elaborating on single-word child productions before adding the ‘but’-clause (Child: cup , Adult: that’s a cup, but you don’t like juice); (3) as children start combining more clauses, adults gradually conjoin more ‘but’-clauses directly with the children’s productions, without elaboration (Child: let’s go. Adult: but first put on your shoes). These patterns suggest that the main function of ‘but’-clauses in adult-child discourse is co-constructing ideas contributed by two (or more) interlocutors. Such co-constructions are initially scaffolded by the adults, until the children are able to contribute full-fledged propositions to co-constructions. These findings provide further evidence of the role of adult-child interaction in introducing and familiarizing children with new linguistic structures, and advancing their developing grammar.
Keywords: clause combining, adult-child conversations, co-construction, developmental phases, scaffolding
Published online: 11 June 2021