Story voices: The use of reported speech in 10-12-year-olds' spontaneous narratives

Maybin, Janet (1996). Story voices: The use of reported speech in 10-12-year-olds' spontaneous narratives. Current issues in language and society, 3(1) pp. 36–48.



Five spontaneous narratives from 10 12-year-olds conversations are analysed to show how they contribute to the children s ongoing construction of knowledge and identity. A Labovian analysis of the evaluative function of narrative is supplemented with ethnographic research and Bakhtin and Volosinov s work, to demonstrate more dynamic and complex processes in children s talk. It is argued that the children s use of reported speech drives both the referential and the evaluative functions of their narratives. The children s reproduction and framing of other people s and their own voices enables them to explore the different perspectives of characters within the story, and also to comment on and evaluate these perspectives. The stories are orientated towards listeners and previous conversational turns, and they also set up intertextual connections with other stories and other conversations, to create additional connotations and layers of meaning. Children s narratives revisit particular themes and preoccupations, for example toughness and gentleness, their emerging new gendered identities and relationships, and their changing relations with parents and other authority figures. In this sense, a narrrative may be seen as a turn in a more meta-level long conversation , carried on among children across different interactions and settings.

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