Gender in discourse behaviour in parent–child dyads: a literature review

Lanvers, Ursula (2004). Gender in discourse behaviour in parent–child dyads: a literature review. Child: Care, Health and Development, 30(5) pp. 481–493.



This anonymously peer-reviewed theoretical contribution has three parts: a review of the substantial literature on gender and discourse in children and carers, discussion of methodological difficulties of relating input to uptake, and discussion of research designs that consider this caveat, thus providing a source of reference for researchers (developmental linguistics, gender linguistics) and suggestions for further research.

A systematic overview of the much debated topic of gendered talk in parents/carers and emergence of gender differences in children’s styles presents comparative results from all large studies and two meta-analyses. The findings on parental gendered input are shown to be fragmented, sometimes contradictory. Regarding gender differences in children, however, findings show relative uniformity from age c.3,6 onwards, pointing to the need to investigate less mature speech. The author argues that more refined methods of data collection and analysis, used in other areas of child language development, are needed for this purpose.

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