Children’s Use of Vernacular Functions of 'like' in Peer Conversation

Christopher Odato


Much recent research describes the ongoing development of 'like' as a discourse particle and in the 'BE+like' quotative construction. Comparatively little is known about how speakers acquire this variable. This study examines children’s (ages 3-6 and 10) use of like to better understand how it is incorporated into maturing grammars. There is evidence for early acquisition of discourse 'like', most frequently as a discourse particle adjoined to determiner phrases. Also, children’s discourse 'like' tokens occurred more frequently with the verb BE, and quotative tokens more frequently without BE, than adults’, suggesting a weaker distinction between the discourse and quotative functions.

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