Family Language Policy: Parental Discourse Strategies and Child Responses

Title: Family Language Policy: Parental Discourse Strategies and Child Responses
Authors: Brooksbank, Joselyn
Date: 2017
Abstract: Using transcribed data from six Spanish-English bilingual children (1;8 to 3;3) from the Perez corpus in the CHILDES database, this thesis examines Parental Discourse Strategies (PDS) used to influence child language use in a minority language context (Spanish in the United States). PDS (Lanza, 1992; 1997) are situated within a language socialization framework (Ochs & Schieffelin, 2011) and can be viewed as part of the emerging field of family language policy (King & Fogle, 2013; Schwartz, 2010). This study looked at the overall language use, including the frequency and complexity, of English, Spanish, and mixed utterances by each parent and child in the corpus. The presence and rate of use of the PDS was calculated, as well as their successfulness in encouraging the children to use the minority language, as measured by the language of response to each PDS found. These strategies have been placed on a monolingual to bilingual continuum (Lanza, 1992) based on their expected success in influencing a child to use the language preferred by their parent. Results from a descriptive quantitative analysis of the data at the group and individual levels generally support the Parental Discourse Hypothesis, that is, the claim that certain strategies are more effective than others. Interestingly, it was found that the more successful strategies were used less frequently by the parents, while the less successful ones were more common. This apparent contradiction can be explained by conflicting pressure on parents to promote minority language use while also keeping fluid communication and preserving family harmony. This is discussed and further supported by some qualitative observations of child responses within discourse samples, highlighting children’s role as agents capable of negotiating their own linguistic socialization.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -