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J Child Lang. 1999 Feb;26(1):133-62.

Early talk about the past revisited: affect in working-class and middle-class children's co-narrations.

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Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 61820, USA.


This study contributes to our understanding of sociocultural variation in children's early storytelling by comparing co-narrations produced by children and their families from two European-American communities, one working-class and one middle-class. Six children from each community were observed in their homes at 2;6 and 3;0 years of age, yielding a corpus of nearly 400 naturally-occurring co-narrations of past experience. Analyses of generic properties, content, and emotion talk revealed a complex configuration of similarities and differences. Working-class and middle-class families produced co-narrations that were similar in referential/evaluative functions and temporal structure, with a preponderance of positive content. Working-class families produced twice as many co-narrations as their middle-class counterparts, produced more negative emotion talk, and used more dramatic language for conveying negative emotional experience. These findings suggest that (1) differentiation between working-class and middle-class communities in the content of early narratives may occur primarily with respect to negative experience and (2) researchers need to go beyond emotion state terms in order to accurately represent sociocultural variation in personal storytelling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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