Does reticence mean just talking less? Qualitative differences in the language of talkative and reticent preschoolers Academic Article uri icon


  • In our recent efforts to understand individual variation in the language acquisition process, the existence and nature of the communicative behaviors that differentiate reticent from talkative children have been virtually ignored. This study provides a preliminary investigation of this issue by analyzing the spontaneous language produced by four children who varied in degree of talkativeness in free-play dyadic interactions with a total of 28 different adults. Both structural complexity and discourse features analyses of the children's language revealed significant, difference between the talkative and reticent children. A further question considered the influence of the children's degree of talkativeness on their adult conversational partners. While the structural complexity of the adults' language was not influenced by child talkativeness, several discourse parameters did reveal significant adjustments. Implications for the concept of reticence and for language acquisition theory are explored. 1982 Plenum Publishing Corporation.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

author list (cited authors)

  • Van Kleeck, A., & Street, R.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Van Kleeck, Anne||Street, Richard

publication date

  • November 1982