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The social and private worlds of speech: Speech for inter- and intramental activity

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Heather Smith


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During a study designed to examine the processes of learning English as an additional language as manifest in the interactive behaviour of small groups of bilingual school children playing specially designed board games, several instances of private speech were captured. Private speech is commonly described as speech addressed to the self for intramental purposes. Unlike many studies, this research was not specifically aimed at eliciting private speech. Indeed, the overtly social nature of game playing probably acted to limit the production of speech for intramental purposes. In effect, therefore, interest lies in the fact that private speech was produced within this context. The article presents an examination of the functions of the private speech produced and the consequences of such outward verbalisation within this interactive group activity. As a result, a heuristic model of the relationship between speech for social and private purposes is proposed. © 2007 The Modern Language Journal.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smith HJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Modern Language Journal

Year: 2007

Volume: 91

Issue: 3

Pages: 341-356

ISSN (print): 0026-7902

ISSN (electronic): 1540-4781

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4781.2007.00584.x


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