Gender Differences in Children's Use of Discourse Markers: Separate Worlds or Different Contexts?

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This study examines the role of activity context in gender differences in children's use of discourse markers. Thirty-six children, ages 3–5 years of age, were observed in naturalistic peer conversation during lunch. Discourse markers were coded for discourse function and conversational activity context. There was a significant relationship between gender and activity context, and between activity context and the discourse functions it demands. This study suggests that the conversational activity in which a child engages selects for certain discourse marker functions and not others. This selection can account for the gender differences observed in discourse marker use. There are no significant gender differences when discourse marker use is examined within a given activity context. Role-play context is the exception to this general finding.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Discourse markers
  • Gender differences
  • Children
  • Activity context


  • Psychology

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