Gender Differences in the Discourse of Greek Children Play-Groups
Keywords:Gender Construction, Child Discourse
This paper examines the discourse of children of nursery school age concerning the construction of gender. It focuses on the conversational negotiation of control acts - i.e. conversational moves which attempt to change the behaviour of others-, and the use of politeness – i.e. strategies for the protection of face- in connection to the sex of the children, the type of the activity, and the composition of the play-group. The data are part of the corpus of a larger study, which examines the use of control acts by children of nursery school age (Author 2001). It is based on ethnographic observations of children’s activities in the nursery school environment that lasted one school year. The children involved are of both sexes and of various social backgrounds. The conversational exchanges used for the present study are based on recordings that took place during playtime activities. Transcripts of topically similar interactions have been selected so as the discourse of single- and mixed-sex groupings to be studied and juxtaposed. Based on the analysis, it will be claimed that Greek children of both sexes make use of linguistic markers of dominance in their choice of control acts which, rather than being linked to the sex of the speakers, are linked to one’s achieved position of power within the play-group, as has already been shown in other studies (Goodwin 2001).
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