Children's apologies are greatly under-researched. Though there is wealth of information available on the pragmatics of apologies generally, we know much less about whether and how children apologize. Our study explores modes of remedial work by Israeli children in peer discourse. The data were collected through ethnographic observation of Israeli preschool and preadolescents, and consist of 57 (taped and transcribed) apology events identified in natural peer interactions. The analysis of children's apology events revealed a rich range of apology strategies used by 4–6 year old children, indicating the acquisition of remedial competencies for face management at a relatively early age and showed that with age, a richer range of potential violations is identified, and more elaborate forms of repair are being used, indicating a growing sensitivity to the other's face needs. Furthermore, we found that adult intervention in children's conflictual situations serves to model remedial strategies, but is not necessarily effective for conflict resolution. Importantly, peer talk apology events index the centrality of friendship in young children's social world: breaches from expected behavior in play are taken as face threatening to the core of friendship, namely the children's shared face as friends, and hence can function to end (even if temporarily) the friendship. Consequently, in such cases, the restoration of friendship becomes a necessary precondition for the felicitous realization of an apology.
About the authors
Zohar Kampf is writing his PhD dissertation on the nature of political apologies in the department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Shoshana Blum-Kulka is the Carl and Matilda Newhouse Professor Emeritus in the Department of Communication and Journalism and the School of Education at the Hebrew University. Her research focuses on cross-cultural differences in speech act realization, the development of pragmatic skills in first and second language, language socialization in the family, children's peer talk and media discourse. She is currently directing research projects on the pragmatic development of Hebrew speaking Israeli children as a first and as a second language.
© Walter de Gruyter