Ditte Boeg Thomsen at LEL Research Seminar

Posted on September 26, 2017 by

This academic year’s LEL Research Seminar series will kick off on October 3rd with a presentation by Dr Ditte Boeg Thomsen. Ditte is a senior research associate at the Linguistics and English Language department of Lancaster University. Her expertise lies in the field of child language acquisition, and she is particularly interested in the relation between cognition and language acquisition. At the LEL Seminar, she will talk about Children’s acquisition of intersubjective discourse particles. Here’s the abstract:

Children’s acquisition of intersubjective discourse particles

Ditte Boeg Thomsen (Lancaster University)

Many languages provide speakers with a repertoire of discourse particles that allow interlocutors to specify how their understandings of situations converge and differ. Such particles are intersubjective in the sense that they point to constellations of perspectives, as in Danish jo (shared knowledge, presupposed agreement), da (shared knowledge, opposing viewpoints) and vel (speaker uncertainty, privileged recipient knowledge). Appropriate use of such double-perspective markers requires speakers to represent propositions from both their own point of view and another person’s point of view simultaneously. Whereas adults are generally expected to monitor their own and others’ mental states routinely, it is controversial at which stages children are able to do the same, and this makes acquisition of discourse particles highly interesting for studies in children’s sociocognitive development.

            In my talk, I present a group of related studies investigating children’s acquisition of discourse particles in Danish: a gap-filling test substantiating adult consensus on particle meanings, a corpus analysis of caregiver speech establishing frequency balances in children’s input, a spontaneous-speech analysis of children’s use of discourse particles in peer group conversations (123 hours, 19 children: 1;9-6;3 years) and two studies of mastery of discourse particles in school-aged children with typical development or autism. The main finding from the studies is that typically developing Danish children are able and highly motivated to coordinate conversations as joint actions by pointing to interlocutor perspectives with intersubjective particles, and that the children are sensitive to the contextual demands of particles marking shared knowledge, disagreement and differential access to knowledge.


The seminars traditionally end with a short reception with wine and some snacks, and this formula remains unaltered. We especially hope you join us for the reception, as we will also use this opportunity to welcome our new MA students.

Date: 3 October 2017

Time: 4.15 – 5.30 (pm, of course)

Room: Samuel Alexander Building, room A201

For more LEL events, have a look at our Autumn programme, or at the LEL Events Calendar.