Understanding Indirect Requests: An Investigation of Children’s Comprehension of Pragmatic Meanings Two experiments examined four-, five-, and six-year-old children’s understanding of indirect requests. The experimental tasks required the children to judge the appropriateness of a listener’s response to indirect requests involving an affirmative syntactic construction (Can you shut the door?), requests containing a negative element (Can’t you answer the phone?), and ... Research Article
Research Article  |   September 01, 1978
Understanding Indirect Requests: An Investigation of Children’s Comprehension of Pragmatic Meanings
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Memphis State University, Memphis, Tennessee
  • M. Jeanne Wilcox
    Memphis State University, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Kathleen C. Fulmer
    Memphis State University, Memphis, Tennessee
  • G. Albyn Davis
    Memphis State University, Memphis, Tennessee
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   September 01, 1978
Understanding Indirect Requests: An Investigation of Children’s Comprehension of Pragmatic Meanings
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, September 1978, Vol. 21, 528-537. doi:10.1044/jshr.2103.528
History: Received September 16, 1977 , Accepted February 6, 1978
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, September 1978, Vol. 21, 528-537. doi:10.1044/jshr.2103.528
History: Received September 16, 1977; Accepted February 6, 1978

Two experiments examined four-, five-, and six-year-old children’s understanding of indirect requests. The experimental tasks required the children to judge the appropriateness of a listener’s response to indirect requests involving an affirmative syntactic construction (Can you shut the door?), requests containing a negative element (Can’t you answer the phone?), and requests for the state of affairs mentioned in the predicate to be changed (Must you play the piano?). Even the youngest age group exhibited an understanding of the first two types of indirect requests. However, only the six year olds showed any understanding of requests for a change in the state of affairs mentioned in the predicate. Possible factors responsible for children’s difficulty with these requests are discussed.

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