TALKING ABOUT PAST EVENTS IN CONVERSATION: AN ANALYSIS OF MANDARIN MOTHER-CHILD AND ADULT-ADULT DISCOURSE
This study explored three-year-old Mandarin-speaking children's abilities to talk about past events, focusing on how past reference was maintained in mother-child conversation. For comparison, adult-adult conversation was also examined. The analysis showed that while the children relied heavily on maternal scaffolding when referring to the past, the children's emerging abilities to express temporal relations also shaped the mothers' speech in conversation. It was also found that in the children's still-primitive narratives, temporality was marked mostly for local considerations rather than for an attempt to organize global structures of discourse. In contrast, in the adult-adult discourse, the analysis demonstrated how temporal and aspectual markers contributed to a greater temporal complexity.