Evaluation in pre-teenagers’ informal language practices around texts from popular culture

Maybin, Janet (2014). Evaluation in pre-teenagers’ informal language practices around texts from popular culture. In: Cekaite, Asta; Blum-Kulka, Shoshana; Grøver, Vibeke and Teubal, Eva eds. Children’s Peer Talk: Learning from Each Other. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 107–126.

URL: http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/lang...


Focussing on ten and eleven year-old children’s ongoing informal talk in school, this chapter examines the emergence of their evaluative responses to a number of texts from popular culture which figure in their everyday lives. It looks in particular at how expressions of emotional reactions, judgements about behaviour and events and appreciation of the aesthetic value of the texts are mediated by the interactive entrainment of evaluation among friends. The data include highly heteroglossic exchanges about an episode of the UK television soap opera EastEnders, which children treat simultaneously as a ‘slice of live’ and as an artful text, revoicing characters and expressing feelings about the producers and the plot. In collaborative performances of musical fragments from films including Titanic and Mama Mia, and a rhythm and blues song by Rihanna: ‘Unfaithful’, children’s appreciation was expressed by entry into and appropriation of rhythmic and melodic forms, often strongly emotionally imbued. The children’s sensitivity to and appreciation of form is conveyed in the interactionally synchronised performance of song which confirms and intensifies social bonding. Judgement here is often implicit in children’s evaluative alliances with the singers whose voices and stances they are reproducing, but they could also distance themselves from these values, for example through playful revoicing. While children’s performances and discussion of the soap-opera and songs enact dominant cultural values and discourse, their revoicings and exchanges with peers also provide evidence of experimentation and play with a range of evaluative positions and with different degrees of commitment.

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