By J. Maybin

Drawing on ethnographic study inside and out the study room, Janet Maybin investigates how 10-12 year-old young children use speak and literacy to build wisdom approximately their social worlds and approximately themselves, as they negotiate the transition from early life into formative years. in the course of the research of examples of speak, she exhibits how youngsters use collaborative verbal recommendations, tales of private adventure and the remodeled voices of others to enquire the ethical order and forge their very own identities.

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Additional resources for Children's Voices: Talk, Knowledge and Identity

Example text

I have struggled to find a language of description which can both identify the intricate linguistic features of children’s talk, and acknowledge its dynamic nature within social practice. Basic terms like ‘context’, ‘speaker’, ‘listener’, ‘meaning’, and ‘function’ seem to imply a kind of fixity, a finalisability which does not fit with the more processual quality of the data I collected. I am then left with a choice of crude verbal forms like ‘constructing’, or ‘developing’ or ‘emerging’ to 30 Children’s Voices try and capture the dynamic aspects of children’s dialogue and meaning-making.

Michelle said she often made up stories with friends and offered to tape one of these for me. The first two extracts below comes from Michelle’s recording of herself, her 4 year-old cousin, Natalie, and a 10 year-old friend, Sharon, who are all playing together in Michelle’s bedroom. They construct a long, imaginary story which starts with Michelle announcing the title and invoking the genre: ‘Once upon a time there was a little girl called Cinderella’. However, in the very first sentence of the story, Cinderella’s ‘playing out the front’ locates the scene not in a fairytale world, but within the children’s own lives, where they often played together in the road running outside 38 Children’s Voices their houses.

Within linguistic anthropology, the ways in which speakers make links with and invoke particular aspects of social context against which they intended their words to be interpreted, has been termed ‘contextualisation’ (Duranti, 2001). Contextualisation can, of course, involve specific references to some aspect of the immediate physical surroundings, but it can also involve references to particular kinds of social practices. For instance, when Nicole accused Melissa of writing graffiti about Laura on the mirror in the girls’ toilet and Melissa protested ‘Why?

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