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Comparative analysis of children’s narratives at different ages

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This study addresses two questions. The first question is about how children integrate linguistic, prosodic and kinesic resources into organised discourse behaviour such as oral narratives. Three event reports produced spontaneously by 9- to 11-year-old French children during interviews with an adult were extracted from a video corpus. A detailed analysis of these on four dimensions (discourse construction, voice and prosody, co-speech gestures and facial expressions, gaze direction) reveals a remarkable ability in children of this age to use prosodic and kinesic resources to frame and structure their narrative, to dramatise and enliven the recounted events, and to comment on them or on the narration. The second question stresses the developmental aspect of multimodal narrative behaviour. 32 event reports extracted from the same corpus and produced by French children aged from 6 to 11 years were analysed in a similar way and rated by two independent coders. This second study leads us to distinguish between three levels of narrative performance which appear to coincide by age. The multimodal study of oral narratives thus shows how and when children gradually become genuine narrators.
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Keywords: children; event reports; gaze; gesture; narrative structure; narrator’s abilities; voice

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-06-11

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