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How do parents refer to their children while playing? a cross-linguistic comparison of parental input to bulgarian- and english-speaking children with ASD

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2022

Mihaela D. BAROKOVA*
Affiliation:
Center for Autism Research Excellence, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University
Helen TAGER-FLUSBERG
Affiliation:
Center for Autism Research Excellence, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University
*
Corresponding author. Mihaela D. Barokova, M.A., Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University, 64 Cummington Mall, Boston MA 02215. Email: mihaela.barokova@gmail.com

Abstract

Instances of person-reference, in the form of personal pronouns, names, or terms of endearment, are frequently used in child-directed speech. Examining this aspect of parental input is especially relevant to children with autism, who experience difficulties with person-reference. In this study, we compared the person-reference during parent-child interactions of Bulgarian (N=37) and English-speaking (N=37) parents of children with autism, who were matched on the language ability of their child. English-speaking parents used significantly more personal pronouns to refer to their children, while Bulgarian-speaking parents used the child’s name more along with kinship terms. Furthermore, Bulgarian-speaking parents used significantly more different ways to refer to their child. These group differences were interpreted in the context of structural differences in the pronominal systems of Bulgarian and English, and in terms of culturally different discourse practices.

Type
Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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