THE DEVELOPMENT OF INTERLOCUTOR SENSITIVITY IN THE REALIZATION OF SPEECH ACTS OF APOLOGY AND REFUSAL
The ability to adjust one’s language according to differences in status of an interlocutor and in the degree of familiarity between interlocutors plays an important role in successful communication. Most research that explores the effect of the social status and social distance of listeners on the realization of the speech act has examined western children’s speech act behavior; relatively little attention has been paid to non-western children’s development in this area. The present study attempts to shed light on the development of interlocutor sensitivity in the realization of speech acts of apology and refusal. This study examined the pragmatic development of Mandarin-speaking children, a relatively under-researched speaker group. A total of 400 students participated in this study, including 1st, 4th, 8th graders and college students. A discourse completion task was used to collect production data. It was found that participants of different ages differ in their ability to reveal interlocutor sensitivity.