Evaluative language used by Mandarin-Chinese-speaking dyads in personal narratives: Age and socioeconomic differences

Wen Feng Lai*, Yen Yu Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The aim of this study was to determine the effects of age and family socioeconomic status (SES) on the evaluative language performance of Mandarin-Chinese-speaking young children and their mothers. The participants were 65 mother–child dyads recruited in Taiwan. Thirty-four of these dyads were from middle-class families and 31 were from working-class families. Narrative conversations of individual dyads were audio-recorded, and transcripts of those conversations were prepared and analyzed using the Child Language Data Exchange System. The primary findings were as follows: (a) mothers of 3-year-olds used more cognitive words; (b) middle-class mothers produced more cognitive words, whereas working-class mothers used more repetitions; (c) 3-year-old children used substantially more evaluative language than 2-year-olds in cognitive words, reported speech, and gratuitous terms; and (d) middle-class children produced more cognitive words than working-class children, whereas working-class children produced more reported speech. The results are discussed in relation to language socialization and the implications for multicultural education are explored.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1017-1033
    Number of pages17
    JournalEarly Child Development and Care
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jul 2


    • evaluative language
    • family socioeconomic status
    • Mandarin-Chinese-speaking children
    • narrative development
    • personal narrative

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Pediatrics


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