Functioning of Pronominal Lexemes kakoj ‘which’ and kak ‘how’ in the Speech of Russian Children

Keywords: language acquisition, children’s speech, interrogative pronouns, relative pronouns, deixis.


Introduction. Objectives. The paper discusses functioning of Russian pronominal lexemes kakoj ‘which’ and kak ‘how’ in the speech of children, separating them from other interrogative/relative wh-words. It also questions to what extent children’s speech behavior in this field is different from adults’ behavior.

Material and Methods. To analyse children’s speech we have used transcripts of audio and video recordings provided by the Children’s speech data foundation of Herzen Russian State Pedagogical University and Institute of Linguistic Studies RAS (5 children aged 1,5 to 6 years); to analyse adults’ speech we have used the data of the spoken subcorpus of the Russian National Corpus. We have extracted 925 utterances with kakoj and kak from the children’s corpora and, for comparison, 1040 utterances from the Russian National Corpus, and run the functional-semantic analysis of the utterances.

Results. The main functions characteristic for kakoj and kak are: relative, interrogative, deictic, emphatic and indefinite. In the children’s speech the first place is given to the types connected with the idea of the deictic reference point: demonstrative phrases like vot kakoj ‘that’s what/which’, demonstrative-relative constructions like smotri, kakoj ‘look, what/which’, emphatic, and such interrogative types, where the referent is present within the communicative situation. The adults’ speech primarily features the interrogative function (the referent is outside of the communicative situation) and relative constructions with the verbs of speech and thought. Moreover, only adults use the indefinite function.

Conclusions. "Kakoj" and "kak" in the speech of children tend to be more deictic than quantifying (interrogative) and closer to their demonstrative counterparts takoj ‘such’ and tak ‘in a such manner’ that to other wh-words. When children grow older, their pronominal system becomes more adult-like: the number of demonstrative utterances decreases, while the questions on the objects and actions excluded from the communicative situation get more frequent; relative constructions with the verbs of speech and thought and with coreferent nouns and pronouns develop.


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How to Cite
Krasnoshchekova, S. (2021). Functioning of Pronominal Lexemes kakoj ‘which’ and kak ‘how’ in the Speech of Russian Children. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 29(2), 103-124.