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Maternal verbal responsiveness and directiveness: consistency, stability, and relations to child early linguistic development*


Maternal responsive and directive speech to children at ages 0;10 and 2;0 was investigated by applying a procedure first introduced by Flynn and Masur (2007) to a new language community (Finnish). The issues examined were consistency and stability over time, and also the role of responsiveness and directiveness in child linguistic development at 1;0 and 2;6. The measures of maternal speech from each age were used to predict the results of the subsequent linguistic assessment. Negative correlations between responsive and directive utterances were found at both ages. The frequencies of responsive utterances and supportive directives increased over time. Responsiveness was positively, and intrusive directiveness negatively, related to child early comprehensive skills and the use of symbolic actions and communicative gestures. By contrast, no relations were found between responsiveness and directiveness and children's later linguistic capacities.

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*Address for correspondence: Leila Paavola-Ruotsalainen. e-mail:
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Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-language
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