Anadolu Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi Anadolu University Journal of Social Sciences Pragmatic Functions of Interrogatives in the Conversations of Monolingual Turkish-Speaking Children Türk Çocuklarının Söyleşilerinde Kullanılan Soru Cümlelerinin İşlevleri Assoc. Prof. Dr. Fatma Hülya Özcan Abstract Form and function relationship in discourse is important as different functions can be expressed through one form. Interrogatives in discourse can perform more than one act such as questions, offers, requests. Questions also serve different functions in discourse such as “attracting attention, asking for information, confirmation and clarification” and many others. In this study, we studied the pragmatic functions of interrogatives in group conversations of monolingual Turkish-speaking children. The findings show that the functions of questions are determined not only by context but by personal relations as well. Questions that seek information and that propose action are frequently asked since participants in the study work in groups in a collaborative task. Through these questions, participants ask for information related to the task and ask for permission, request an object or suggest ideas on the task they deal with. On the other hand, the collaborative nature of the task does not lead to questions used to ask for opinions. The tendency which the participants display suggests that the nature of the task and social relations are more effective than the social and cultural environment. öneride bulunmak gibi farklı edimsel işlevleri için kullanılabilmektedir. Aynı şekilde, sorulan sorular da bağlam içinde farklı anlamlar ifade etmektedir. Bu çalışmada, anadili Türkçe olan tekdilli çocukların grup söyleşilerinde sordukları sorular edimbilim açısından incelenmiştir. Bulgular, soruların işlevlerinin belirlenmesinde hem bağlamın hem de konuşucuların birbirine karşı olan ilişkilerin rol oynadığını göstermiştir. Bilgi soran soruların ve işlem başlatma sorularının sık olarak kullanılması konuşucuların birlikte tamamlamaya çalıştıkları göreve odaklanmalarından kaynaklanmaktadır. Çünkü sorularla, göreve odaklı bilgi istemekte ve ileri sürdükleri fikirleri onaya sunmaktadırlar. Diğer yandan, yaptıkları görevin işbirliği yapmalarını gerektirmesi fikir sorularının daha az kullanılmasına yol açmıştır. Katılımcıların bu eğilimi, yaptıkları görevin ve kendi aralarındaki sosyal ilişkilerin, kültürel ve sosyal çevreden daha etkili olduğunu göstermektedir. Keywords: Conversational Skills, Interrogatives, Pragmatic Functions Each utterance performed by a speaker may serve different functions. In some cases, there is a one-to-one relationship between form and function meaning that one form may lead to a performance of a single act; while, in most instances, there is no one-to-one relationship between form and function meaning that one form may have various functions. One such form is the interrogatives. Interrogatives are considered as “a category of grammatical form” (Huddleston, 1994, p. 412) while questions are considered as “a category of meaning and function” (Ibid). Henceforth, the term Öz Doğal dillerde yapı-işlev ilişkisi karmaşık bir olgudur. Tek bir işlev birden fazla yapı ile gerçekleştirilebildiği gibi tek bir sözdizimsel yapı birden fazla işlevi yerine getirmek amaçlı kullanılabilir. Örneğin soru cümleleri temel işlevleri olan soru sormak dışında rica etmek, Anahtar Kelimeler: Söyleşi Cümleleri, Edimbilimsel İşlevler Becerileri, Soru Introduction Assoc. Prof. Dr. Fatma Hülya Özcan, Anadolu University Faculty of Education, firstname.lastname@example.org sbd.anadolu.edu.tr 123 Pragmatic Functions of Interrogatives in the Conversations of Monolingual Turkish-Speaking Children “question” is used since we aim to focus on the functions which are expressed during the conversations. 1. What is the frequency of questions in the group conversations? Language acquisition studies have focused on the production of questions. Questions is considered as a medium to understand children’s thinking process (Piaget, 1970), their intellectual abilities and social competence during communication with others (Przetaunik-Gierowska & Lige+za, 1990). Questions also reveal information not only about the semantic development but pragmatic development as well. Pragmatic development, as Ninio and Snow (1999, p. 27) stated, is closely related to the development of other language domains. 2. What are the functions of questions in group conversations of monolingual Turkish-speaking school age children? Pragmatic aspects of questions have received a considerable amount of attention both in child and adult language as pragmatic analyses of the questions also provide information on “the appropriateness and the felicity of the utterance as the occasion requires” (Ninio & Snow, 1996, p. 9). Tsui (1994) and Wu (1996) studied the questions adults asked. Tsui (1994) proposed six different functions of questions which are eliciting information, eliciting confirmation eliciting agreement, eliciting commitment, eliciting repetition and clarification and Wu (1989, 1999) concluded that the form and function relationship is rather a complex one. James and Seebach (1982) studied the pragmatic functions of questions of children from the age of 2 to 5 and stated that young children use questions to serve different functions, which are conversation function, information seeking function and directive function and these functions change with the increasing age. Gloric (2010), considering James and Seebach’s classification of functions too broad, suggested a detailed classification of functions. The diversity of the types and the functions are likely to show a change in relation to the linguistic context and the partners involved. Besides, as Bloom-Kulka (2004) discussed, most sociolinguistic studies lack a developmental data or they are concerned with toddlers and preschool children than school children. Questions, having different pragmatic functions, convey different meanings and have an impact on the negotiation of meaning. Research Questions This study, therefore, was designed to answer the following questions: 124 3. Do the functions of the questions posed show any change in different grades? 4. Do these functions show any change in terms of gender? Methodology The Project This study is a part of a large-scale project which is designed both as a cross sectional and a longitudinal study in cooperation with the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The project was first started in Køge by the University of Copenhagen with bilingual Turkish-Danish speaking children. Then, in 1997, the Anadolu Project, which was funded by Anadolu University, was started to collect spoken data from monolingual Turkish-speaking school children living in Eskişehir, a provincial town in Turkey, in order to provide a control group for the data collected in the Køge Project to allow comparative analysis. One of the main concerns of this project was to collect data from the second generation of immigrant, working class families. The reason for choosing the second generation of immigrant working class families is to collect the data from children of similar background since Køge Project consisted of the language samples collected from second generation of immigrant working class families. There are 48 monolingual Turkish-speaking children in this study, who were born in Turkey and had parents who migrated to Turkey earlier. They were attending to a school, situated in a socio-economically lower district, where mostly children of working class families attend. The data of this study was collected longitudinally from the same children when they were in the 1st grade, 3rd grade, 5th grade, 7th grade and 8th grade. Each grade has three subgroups; a group of only boys, a groups of only boys, and a mixed group consisting two girls and two boys. Participants For this present study, all grades from the 1st to 8th grade were included. All the subgroups of each grade Anadolu Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi Eğitim Özel Sayısı were included in the analysis in order to reveal any possible gender differences in the data. Therefore, we have 15 groups and 60 participants in total. were excluded in this study since tag questions, rhetorical questions and conducive questions have various sub-functions and require a detailed study. Data Collection Language samples of the participants were produced during problem-solving tasks. For the group conversations, the students gathered in a separate room at the school. In the mixed- gender groups, they were seated in order to match diagonally according to their sexes. The students had the small microphones pinned on their clothes and the recording was done by mini disc recorders. The functions were assigned by identifying the information questioned in the question. Having reviewed the taxonomy of functions in the previous studies (Tsui, 1994; James & Seebach, 1982), we took the taxonomy suggested in HoShukWai (2000) as the basis and adapted this taxonomy taking our data in consideration. 1st and the 3rd graders were asked to furnish a house. They were given a large sheet of a cardboard and a stack of furniture catalogs. For each group, 3 pairs of scissors, 3 marker pens and 3 glue sticks were given. The number of the scissors and the glue sticks and marker pens were less than the number of the participants in the group. The instructions were given in Turkish by the native speakers of Turkish. The students were told that they were to prepare a furnished house on the white cardboard by cutting out the furniture pictures from the catalogue in order to furnish the house and were asked to decide together how to furnish. Seeking information 5th, 7th and 8th graders were asked to prepare a collage on either a topic they chose or to illustrate a day they spent together in Eskişehir. They were given a stack of pictures too and were told that they were free to write or to draw on the poster. While preparing the collage, they had to decide together and negotiate on the suggestions each of them made. Each data collection session lasted for 45 minutes including attaching the mikes and explaining the task. Data Analysis The conversations were transcribed in compliance with the Childes conventions (MacWhinney, 1995). The data from monolingual group was transcribed by a native speaker of Turkish and then reviewed by a bilingual Danish-Turkish speaker. The data for the present study were analyzed in terms of the pragmatic functions of the questions. The first step was to identify all the questions in the conversations. Tag questions, rhetorical questions, statements which are formulated as questions and which do not require an answer, and conducive questions, questions which the speakers believe that they know the answer to, HoShuk Wai’s taxonomy: I. Seeking information A. Discussion observable topics non-present topics inner state and feelings B. negotiating ongoing activity II. Non information-seeking Proposing action Clarification Confirmation III. Rhetorical Attracting attention Exclamation Maintaining contact Upon close examination of our data, we saw that the conversations were mostly around negotiation since the participants had a problem solving task at hand. That is why, “negotiating ongoing activity” was excluded as a category since it would not be explanatory enough. The data showed that they ask each others’ opinions frequently. Besides, the data further showed that participants ask questions to express criticism. Therefore, we added two more categories of functions, which are “asking for opinion” and “criticism”. Therefore, the functions were assigned according to the following taxonomy. I. Seeking information 1. on observable topics sbd.anadolu.edu.tr 125 Pragmatic Functions of Interrogatives in the Conversations of Monolingual Turkish-Speaking Children 2. on non present topics 3. on inner state and feelings Table 2. Distribution of info-Seeking and Non-İnfo Seeking Questions II. Non information-seeking 1. asking for opinion 2. proposing action Questions that propose, suggest, request, impose, offer or invite possible future actions 3. clarification 4. confirmation 5. criticism For assigning the functions, the two raters first assigned the functions to each question asked in one of the groups independently and then reviewed the assigned functions to reach a consensus. Then, 20% of the interrogatives were analyzed by two raters independently and reviewed. The percentage of agreement between the raters is 90%. Questions Total Info seeking questions Non info seeking questions N 2338 % 1417 61% 921 39% Questions are asked more frequently to seek for information from the group members (61%). Non information seeking questions, on the other hand, form the 39% of the questions asked during the conversations. We, then, pursue the functions of questions in detail and analyze the functions our participants convey through questions. Table 3. Distribution of Functions of Questions MONOLINGUAL Info seeking questions Seeking info. (observ.) Seeking info. (non obs) Seeking info. feelings Total Results and Discussion We first looked at the frequency of the questions asked in general. Table 1. Frequency of Questions Across Age Groups questions Total N. questions ( % ) 1st grade 458 3rd grade 734 5th grade 368 7th grade 444 8th grade 649 21% 21% 17% 16% 19% 1st and 3rd grade children ask more questions than the older children. Although the percentage of the questions does not show a steady increase or decrease, 5th grade and 7th grade participants ask fewer questions than the younger groups. When we look at the conversations going on during the task, we gather that older children spare their own working space and each participant prepares a quarter of the collage. One other reason may be that older children get familiar with the task in time. Having a glance at the general profile of the questions, we focus on the two main functions of the questions, which are information seeking and non information seeking questions, excluding rhetorical and conducive questions. 126 N 1358 56 3 1417 % 96% 4% - Monolingual participants’ questions focus around seeking information on the observable environment. (Table 3) Examples: (1) *HAL: yatak odası neresi ‘Where is the bedroom?’ (1st grade) (2) *HAT: ama başka ne bulacağız ki ‘But what else are we going to find?’ (7th grade) This finding conforms to the idea that children seek information about ongoing activity and people and objects present in the immediate environment (Przetaunik-Gierowska & Ligeza, 1990). In face-to-face interactions, the conversational exchange may take place at different levels but immediate social situations have significant influence on the content of interaction (Ninio and Snow, 1996, p.30). Seeking information questions are mostly asked for the observable topics and are frequent at every age level. (Table 4) Anadolu Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi Eğitim Özel Sayısı Table 4. Distribution of Functions Across the Grades Info seeking Q. Seeking info. (observ.) Seeking info. (non obs) Seeking info. (feelings) 1st grade 61% 3rd grade 62% 5th grade 45% 7th grade 56% 8th grade 61% 2% 4% 1% 2% 2% In earlier grades, they ask about what to do and how to do, how to carry on with the task. (3) *HAL: ya ya kızlar burada kızlar neleri yapacağız ben şunları anlayamadım ne koyacağız. ‘hey girls, what are we going to do here, girls? I didn’t understand these. What are we going to put (there)?’ (8) *HAT: kızlar kaçta çalıyor zil. ‘Girls, what time does the bell ring?’ (5th grade) (9) *RAS: acaba bize neden vermiyorlar ki. ‘I wonder why they don’t give us (the cards) to us?’ (8th grade) (1st grade) (4) *UFU: hikaye mi yapacağız şimdi. ‘Are we going to create a story now?’ (3rd grade) In later grades, on the other hand, they ask questions related to how to organize the pictures they have and what to write or whether they have completed a particular step. (5) *ELI: bu kadın da kimmiş. ‘Who is that woman?‘ (7th grade) (6) *AYL: <İ. bu ne demek> [<] look ne demek. ‘What does this mean ? What does ‘look’ mean ?’ (8th grade) (7) *DIL: bu ney [//] bundan ne anlıyorsunuz. ‘What is this ? What do you understand from this?’ (8th grade) Information seeking questions for non-present topics are used to question personal matters or topics in the environment but are not directly related to the immediate context. In non information seeking questions, questions that propose actions are the most frequently asked questions (43%) followed by asking for opinions (34%), confirmation (15%), and clarification (8%) type of questions. Table 5. Distribution of Non-info Seeking Questions Non info seeking questions proposing actions asking for opinions confirmation clarification criticism Total 395 314 136 72 4 921 43% 34% 15% 8% - Participants ask questions to express requests for the objects such as scissors, glues or pictures, permission to stick a picture or write something, or come up with suggestions and offer actions and ideas. (10) *UFU: <kim adam istiyor. (offer) ‘Who wants a (picture of a) man?’ (3rd grade) (11) *HAL: adama len bıyık yapalım mı len. (suggestion) ‘Shall we draw a moustache?’ (3rd grade) sbd.anadolu.edu.tr 127 Pragmatic Functions of Interrogatives in the Conversations of Monolingual Turkish-Speaking Children (12) *SEV: şu dergilerden verir misin K.. (request) ‘Would you give (some of) these magazines?’ (5th grade) (13) *FAY: bakabilir miyim. (permission) ‘May I have a look (at it)?’ (7th grade) We, then, analyzed the distribution of non information seeking questions across the grades. Table 7. Distribution of Non İnformation Seeking Questions Across Grades Non info seeking Q. NIS proposing actions NIS asking for opinions NIS confirmation NIS clarification NIS criticism 1st grade 14% 3rd grade 13% 5th grade 12% 7th grade 12% 8th grade 15% Total N 395 16% 12% 34% 15% 15% 314 1% 3% 4% 4% 3% 136 6% 6% 4% 11% 4% 72 - - - - - 4 Although 8th graders used proposing action questions more than the other graders, the percentages are quite close among the grades. These types of questions are used to request items or suggest actions. (14) *FER: makas verebilir misiniz. ‘Could you give me (a pair of) scissors?’ (8th grade) (17) *ESR: İ. bu da harita olabilir mi duvara. ‘Can this be a map on the wall?’ (5th grade) (18) *UFU: ne yapalım çizdiğin köye. ‘What shall we do on the village you have drawn?’ (5th grade) (15) *RAS: gençlerle el ele yazayım mı. ‘Shall I write “hand in hand with youth”?’ (8th grade) 7th and 8th graders prefer working in their own working space therefore they seem not to be interested in each other’s ideas. (16) *ILK: aa N. sen bunları böyle keser misin. ‘N. would you cut these like that?’ (1st grade) Questions that seek clarification are more frequently used by 7th graders. 5th graders used more “asking for opinion’ questions. Task familiarity may play an important role in this because in the earlier grades, they keep asking questions seeking information about what to do or what objects or people in the pictures to choose but as the time passes, since they get familiar with the task, and become more eager to collaborate, they ask each other’s opinions more. 128 (19 *AYL: biz banyo yaptık mı. ‘Have we had a bath?’ *XXX: banyo mu. ‘A bath?’ We finally looked at whether gender of the participants has a determining effect on the functions of the questions. (Table 7) Anadolu Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi Eğitim Özel Sayısı Table 8. Distribution of Functions of Questions Across the Genders Info so Info sno Info sf opinion Prop. act Clarific. Confirm. criticism Questions (N) Info so Info sno Info sf opinion Prop. act Clarific. Confirm. criticism Questions (N) 1st grade mixed girls % % 55 57 2 3 1 16 19 18 16 2 7 5 161 107 7th grade mixed girls % % 57 39 4 1 12 15 17 11 4 5 4 12 1 214 110 boys % 74 8 13 4 1 114 boys % 68 5 14 4 9 69 3rd grade mixed girls % % 72 47 5 boys % 70 8 8 8 1 6 23 13 6 11 8 11 2 1 17 39 167 243 224 8th grade mixed girls % % 64 47 3 12 14 3 6 1 218 The findings show that boys asked information seeking questions on observable topics more frequently while girls ask more opinion asking questions. In the 5th grade, mixed group has more asking opinion questions. When we take a close look at the conversations of the mixed 5th grades, 59% of the opinion questions are asked by the girl participants. These findings show that boys look for information and girls tend to take other groups members’ views into consideration. Proposing action questions are more frequent in mixed groups in the 1st and 7th grades and in girls in the other grades. That is because girls use questions for requests and permissions more often than boys. (20) *AYS: makası verir misin. ‘Would you give (me) the scissors?’ (1st grade-mixed-girl) (21) *HAL: o mutfak mı o salak bunlar kesilmeyecek onu bırak. ‘Is that a kitchen? Silly, these won’t be cut, leave it.’ (1st grade-mixed-boy) 5th grade mixed girls % % 37 33 2 2 boys % 70 5 10 45 6 4 9 14 4 3 98 124 97 boys % 78 3 24 19 4 3 2 11 1 5 241 148 (22) *MEH: hey versene # makası versene. ‘hey, give me the scissors.’ (1st grade-mixed-boy) 7th grade boys are being more polite when they are with girls. (23) *RAS: şunu verebilir misin # hadi. ‘Can you give this (to me? Come on.’ (7th grade-mixed-boy) (24) *RAS: uhuyu alabilir miyim? ‘Can I have the glue?’ (7th grade-mixed-boy) Clarification questions, although in small percentages, are again used by the girls more. (25) *AYL: göz reklamı. ‘eye commercial’ *CIG: göz mü. ‘eye?’ sbd.anadolu.edu.tr 129 Pragmatic Functions of Interrogatives in the Conversations of Monolingual Turkish-Speaking Children One possible explanation may be that girls are quite involved in what they are doing and feel like asking for clarification frequently. HoShukWai, G. (2000). The Pragmatic Functions of Children’s Questions. BSc Dissertation. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong. Confirmation questions are more frequent in the mixed groups in the 1st and 7th grades and in girls in the 3rd and the 5th grades. When we had a close look at the conversations of the mixed groups, we are not able to find a consistent and plausible pattern in terms of gender. Huddleston, R. (1994). The contrast between interrogatives and questions. Journal of Linguistics. 30, 411-439. Doi: 10.1037/0278-7393.30.411. Tannen (1990) found striking gender differences as girls being collaborative and boys being competitive. Our results indicated girls’ tendency of being collaborative but to be able to say boys are being competitive, more qualitative analysis is required. Ninio, A. and Snow, C. E. (1996). Pragmatic Development. Boulder: Westview. Conclusion Choice of functions seems to depend on the context to a great extent (Athanasiadou, 1990). In our study, it is the task which determines/defines the context. Therefore, the choice of functions is mostly determined by the requirements of the task. That is why information seeking questions are more frequent than the non-information seeking questions. This context could also trigger “asking for opinion” type of questions. However, the relatively lower frequency of these questions may indicate non collaborative tendency of some of the participants especially boys in the groups. Therefore, apart from the context, personal relations and tendencies could dominate the emergence of different functions. Proposing action questions are widely used since these questions comprise the functions of requesting, asking for permission, and suggesting which are appropriate in such a context. The nature of the task and the social relations with their peers seem to shape their choice of functions. A further analysis of the data from discourse and pragmatic point of view will contribute to draw a more detailed developmental profile. References Athanasiadou, A. (1990). The discourse functions of questions. 9th World Congress of Applied Linguistics, Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Greece, April 15-21. Blum-Kulka, S. and Snow, C. E. (2004). Introduction: the potential of peer talk. Discourse Studies. 6 (3), 291306. Doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2736(199702)6.3 <291. 130 MacWhinney, B. (1995). The Childes Project: Tools for Analyzing Talk. 2nd edition. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. Ninio, A. and Snow, C. E. (1999). The development of pragmatics: to use language appropriately. In T. K. Bhatia & W. C. 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