The language of friendship: Genre in the conversations of preschool children

Frances Hoyte*, Jane Torr, Sheila Degotardi

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    This article presents findings of a pilot project for a study investigating the language of preschool-aged peers, with particular attention to differences in genre that were evident in the dyadic play of children who self-identified as being 'very best friends' as opposed to 'just a little bit' friends. Participants were three 5-year-old boys in a preparatory class in regional Queensland, Australia. Friendship nominations were derived from a friendship circle activity during which children nominated whether their classmates were 'very best', 'good' or 'a little bit' friends. In this observational study, the three participating children were paired in different combinations of high- and low-level friendships, and their conversations were video- and audio-recorded during a 30-minute play session with open-ended materials. The conversations were analysed to identify the presence of specific genres within a framework driven by systemic functional linguistic theory. The analysis revealed several different genres that occurred across the three conversations and the linguistic features that accompanied these genres. Furthermore, differing levels of friendship appeared to be accompanied by differences in genre use. Findings suggest some valuable questions about the relationship between language and preschool friendships that provide avenues for future research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)20-34
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Early Childhood Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


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