Love, diminutives, and gender socialization in andean mother–child narrative conversations

Kendall A. King, Colleen Gallagher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


This chapter investigates how emotional words and diminutives function as evaluative resources within mother–child narrative conversations. Participants included 32 Indigenous Spanish-speaking mother–child pairs from the southern Ecuadorian Andes. Mothers were asked to record interactions in which they participated in narrative conversations with their child. Findings suggest that diminutives played a salient part in the socialization of emotion in this Indigenous community. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses indicated gender differences in uses of these types of evaluation and, in particular, in how diminutives and emotional words were used together, with 5-year-old girls hearing significantly more diminutives in emotional utterances than 3-year-old girls and more than boys of both age groups. Implications for narrative evaluation and language socialization are discussed. INTRODUCTION Narratives are often defined as stories about actual or imaginary past events (McCabe, 1991). Early and foundational work on narrative (e.g., Labov & Waletzky, 1967) identified evaluation as a central narrative component. As Labov and Waletzky (1967) demonstrated, a narrative’s referential functions might be carried out perfectly well; however, without evaluation, the narrative tends to be difficult to understand and lacks significance – in their words, “it has no point” (p. 33). Daiute and Nelson (1997) extended this work, pointing out that as children develop narrative discourse skills, evaluation helps them learn how to situate or position themselves within society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpanish-Language Narration and Literacy
Subtitle of host publicationCulture, Cognition, and Emotion
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780511815669
ISBN (Print)9780521883757
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2008.


  • Andes
  • Diminutive
  • Emotion
  • Evaluation
  • Evaluative morphology
  • Maternal speech
  • Narrative
  • Spanish


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