The paper contains pragmatic, discourse and lexical analysis of the child X’s vocabulary conducted with the help of two videos and respective transcripts. The first video was recorded when the focal child was two years and nine months old, and the second was made nine months later. The events of both videos are the same: two participants of the story, who are the child X and Dr. Betty Yu, are making pudding in the child X’s kitchen. Dr. Yu is patient, calm and kind; she tries to get the feedback from the girl and analyze her ability to do the tasks by herself and collaborate with others. The paper examines how contingent the child’s responses are, how she initiates new topics and how her vocabulary varies from one video to another.
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The Context of the Story
The assignment is to conduct pragmatic, discourse and lexical analysis of the child X’s vocabulary based on two videos and respective transcripts. Both videos are the recordings of how the child X, a girl named Mia, and Dr. Betty Yu, who is the friend of the girl’s mother, are making chocolate pudding. Dr. Yu records the whole process to test how the child X can both do the tasks on her own and collaborate with others.
The first video was made when the focal child was two years and nine months old. Events take place in the kitchen of Mia’s home. Firstly, Dr. Yu shows the ingredients and materials needed to make a pudding, and the girl repeats their names. Then, they wash hands and start the cooking process. Firstly, child X is a bit shy but she seems to be excited about the task. She responds to Dr. Yu’s words and actions both with words and gestures (shakes her head, hands, etc.).
Dr. Yu talks slowly and clearly, in a calm and soft voice. She changes her facial expressions, tries to keep a stable eye contact with the child and kindly raises or lowers her voice according to the situation. For example, at the end of questions, she raises her voice to get the feedback: “Let’s see if it’s two cups, okay?” (2 year, 9 month-old Mia making pudding, 2014).
The second video has the same participants and the same task. Dr. Yu and the child X are making a chocolate pudding, but now the girl is older, she is three years and six months old. At this time, the feedback is better, the child talks and tries to initiate topics more often.
The Pragmatic and Discourse Analyses
The total number of sequentially contingent conversational turns achieved by the focal child in the first video is 31, and the greatest number of subsequent ones is 7. At the beginning of the conversation, there are no more than 2-3 subsequent contingent responses, and in the end, this value rises to five and even seven. Hence, the child X’s contingency in the conversation increases as it develops. As for the second video, there are 41 contingent conversational turns, and the greatest number of subsequent ones is 12. Therefore, both contingency in general and the number of subsequent contingent responses increase.
In the first video, the child X in non-contingent from the very beginning. Then she repeats the words of Dr. Betty Yu (“Nope, it’s still drippy”) and finally adds new information, for instance, during the talk about the drawings on the cups (2 year, 9 month-old Mia making pudding, 2014). In the second video, the feedback is better. The child X now tries to make novel contributions to the interlocutor’s utterances. However, the number of statements that are not based on the previous words is bigger: “I saw a puzzle”, “I see a truck”, and so on (3 year, 6 month-old Mia making pudding, 2014).
In both videos, Dr. Betty Yu initiates topics more frequently, and she does it mainly using words or pointing to objects to draw the child X’s attention to them. However, the girl tries to initiate topics several times as well. For example, in the first video, she asks, “That’s pudding?” (2 year, 9 month-old Mia making pudding, 2014). Then she says that her mother can be mad because Dr. Yu has dropped something. Both attempts are made with the help of words only and are met with contingent responses from Dr. Yu.
In the second video, the girl tries to initiate topics even more often. She says, “I saw a puzzle”, “I see a truck”, draws attention with the words “Know what?” and then tells that she is not allowed to eat a lot of cakes since she is a child, and so forth (3 year, 6 month-old Mia making pudding, 2014). The attempts are made both using words and pointing to objects. Again, all of them are met with contingency by Dr. Yu.
With the help of two language sample transcripts, the types of words produced by the focal child have been divided into several following categories. Here are the categorized words for the first transcript.
- Specific nominals: Mommy, Daddy, Tyler, Mia.
- General nominals: pudding, baby, face, nose, hair, mouth, eyes, ears.
- Action words: hold, do, stand, like, drop, get, write, have, need.
- Modifiers: open, thick, drippy, gooey, mad, mine, daddy’s.
- Personal social words: yes, yeah, no, nope, thanks.
- Grammatical function words: it, is, not, I, that, yet, not, and, this, too.
Here are the categories for the second sample:
- Specific nominals: Kristen, daddy, Tyler.
- General nominals: pudding, milk, puzzle, chocolate, baby, cake, bit, truck.
- Action words: can, put, open, do, sit, need, pour, make, look, see, smell, like, drive, know, eat, be, say, stand, tell, come.
- Modifiers: thick, pretty, good, little, Kristen’s, your, ready.
- Personal social words: no, nope, yeah, yup, okay.
- Grammatical function words: I, it, in, now, is, am, we, some, to, there, that, and, not, because, yet, me, too, just, somewhere, what, when, anymore, you, of, but, my, here, on, or, this, out.
In the first sample, the most frequently used by the child lexical categories are grammatical function and action words. Approximately 23% of the child’s vocabulary fall in the group of function words, and 20% fall in action words. As for the second sample, the number of words used and the percentage of the vocabulary that fall in particular groups increase but the most used categories remain the same.
Now, it is 41% for grammatical function words and 27% for action words. The least used groups are similar in both cases as well. Those are specific nominals (9% and 4% respectively) and personal social words (11% and 6% respectively). Finally, it can also be concluded that the girl’s receptive vocabulary precedes expressive one. The child X understands everything that Dr. Yu tells to her but she uses much fewer words. The child’s vocabulary is up to four times more receptive than expressive.
Type-Token Ratio (TTR)
According to my calculations, the number of unique words in the first sample is 50, and the total number of words is 94, which gives us the TTR 0.53. The second sample contains 268 words in total, 82 of which are unique, so the TTS is 0.30. However, the TTR is not the best way to describe the richness of the girl’s vocabulary in this case. Firstly, it does not show all words that the child knows. Secondly, at this age children only learn to communicate and talk, which is why they often repeat the same words in a row. That can be seen in the second video: “And my daddy can’t, um, daddy can’t, my daddy said I can’t, um, I can’t, um, sit here” (3 year, 6 month-old Mia making pudding, 2014).
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Lexical Over-extensions and Under-extensions
In the first video, the child X asks Dr. Yu, “That’s pudding?”, and Dr. Yu replies, “That’s pudding, you’re making pudding” (2 year, 9 month-old Mia making pudding, 2014). When the girl asks this question, she thinks about this particular pudding, not any other pudding in the universe. And if someone shows vanilla (not chocolate) pudding to her, she will probably deny that it is a pudding at all. Therefore, that is an example of under-extension.
As an example of over-extension, in the second video, the child X claims, “I see a truck” (3 year, 6 month-old Mia making pudding, 2014). Dr. Yu defines it as a mail truck, but it does not matter for a little girl because every relatively large car is a truck.
To conclude, the analysis reveals how the girl’s communication skills are developing with the passage of time. In the second video, she operates with more words, tries to initiate new topics and talks more. She has also remembered what ingredients are needed for a pudding, and she seems to be more excited about the task.
2 year, 9 month-old Mia making pudding Session #1 (10/25/09) (2014). Web.
3 year, 6 month-old Mia making pudding Session #2 (7/30/10) (2014). Web.