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Conference Papers Year : 2013

Tansmission of multiparty conversation practices in multimodal French family dinners


Most studies on language development focus on Western dyadic interaction in which the child is interacting with an expert other and scaffolding language development in "joint attentional processes" (Tomasello, 1988). But cross-cultural studies of children growing up in various communities suggest that young children around the world learn language in multiparty interaction in very different conditions (Ochs & Schieffelin, 1984). Polyadic conversations might be important situations to study the discourse level and how children can both listen to adult talk between their parents, participate in collaborative discussions and broaden their experience of various conversational genres (co-constructed narrative, explanation, conflict solving...). We present a study of dinner conversations in eight middle-class Parisian families video-recorded by two observers in their homes. Commensality is a defining trait of most of our family dinners in the corpus and creates a favorable context for polyadic interaction. We coded the data with three different categories of features in order to study: 1) the various characteristics of multimodal communication; 2) how children and adults occupy different participatory roles; 3) the overlapping conversations between the different conversational partners. We focused in particular a) on the rhythms created by multi-layered overlapping conversations; b) the adults' role in their children's interactive skills as involved co-constructors. We also considered the importance of giving children the opportunity to be overhearers of adult conversation. The use of three transcription software CLAN, PRAAT and ELAN to code the transcriptions enabled us to make both quantitative analyses of the involvement of each speaker and qualitative analyses of their prosody, speech and gestures. Our preliminary results show how participants are able to construct simultaneous polyadic and dyadic conversations as the situated activities that punctuate the dinners take place. Our study also underlines the role of multiparty discourse in developing complex conversational competence (Blum-Kulka and Snow, 2002). Blum-Kulka, S. & Snow, C., (2002). Talking to adults, Mahwah. NJ: Erlbaum. Ochs, E. & Schieffelin, B. (1994), Language acquisition and socialization: Three developmental stories and their implications. Reprinted in B. Blount (ed.) Language, culture, and society: A book of readings. Waveland Press. Tomasello, M. (1988). The role of joint attentional process in early language development. Language Sciences, 10, 69 - 88.


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hal-00838719 , version 1 (26-06-2013)


  • HAL Id : hal-00838719 , version 1


Marine Le Mené, Camille Debras, Pauline Beaupoil-Hourdel, Stéphanie Caët, Aliyah Morgenstern. Tansmission of multiparty conversation practices in multimodal French family dinners. Child Language Seminar, Jun 2013, Manchester, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-00838719⟩
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