Pragmatics in Parenting: Language Strategies in Communicating Issues of Sexuality to Teenagers by Kenyan Parents

Christine Atieno Peter 

Abstract

This study sought to examine the features that characterize parents’ talk when they attempt to speak matters of sexuality to their teenage children. It identified and described various features of style which were analyzed in light of theories of pragmatics such as Brown and Levinson’s Politeness theory, Austin’s Speech Act theory and the theory of Cooperative Principle by Grice. The study sample consisted of parents of teenage children who were interviewed to give accounts of the kind of talk that took place between them and their children on matters of sexuality. The results showed that features of indirectness abound in parents’ utterances with only occasional direct utterances. The study provides some interesting linguistic insights into the pragmatic choices of language that people make in ordinary conversation to meet their communication needs when faced with sensitive topics such as those to do with sexuality.  

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