Politeness in young children's speech: Context, peer group influence and pragmatic competence

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19 Citations (Scopus)


This paper is concerned with children's pragmatic competence. It presents the results of an empirical study of Danish children's language in play, focusing on their use of politeness phenomena. Results from the present study are compared with previous research, most of which has found that girls appear to be more polite than boys when they play. This is not confirmed in the present study which found no significant differences in boys' and girls' use of mitigation. The girls as well as the boys often used an assertive, unmitigated style in their play. This result is discussed in relation to different patterns of socialisation in Denmark, emphasising the importance of socio-cultural context and peer group influence on children's language, as well as children's sensitivity of contextual norms, i.e., their pragmatic competence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2003-2022
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Children's language
  • Language and gender
  • Linguistic politeness
  • Pragmatic competence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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