Issues in Applied Linguistics
Life with the alien: role casting and face-saving techniques in family conversation with young children
- Author(s): Fatigante, Marilena
- Fasulo, Alessandra
- Pontecorvo, Clotilde
- et al.
The present article focuses on the distribution of participation in family interaction involving young children (3-5 years old). Adopting a purely qualitative method of analysis, we show instances of family dinnertime conversations in which children appeared banned from participation, while they are the topic of the ongoing talk. We have called " backstage interaction, " sequences adjacent to those in which the child is involved, and within her/his auditory range, so that the child projected participation role alternates between that of addressee and overhearer. We argue that the "backstage talk" in the child's presence has the main effect of casting the current interaction with the child as a representation, in Goffman's terms (1959). Though, the child is left the opportunity to enter again the conversation: the person involved is interested in layering the selfs/he exposed, offering the child a "fictional self to interact with, thus preserving their face from the incumbent threat of the child's impoliteness or embarrassing "spontaneity".