University of Oulu

Gaskins, D., & Frick, M. (2023). Embodiment in directive sequences: The case of triadic interactions in a Polish-English bilingual family. International Journal of Bilingualism, 27(1), 122–142.

Embodiment in directive sequences : the case of triadic interactions in a Polish-English bilingual family

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Author: Gaskins, Dorota1; Frick, Maria2
Organizations: 1King’s College London, UK
2University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: SAGE Publications, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-05-03


Aims: This study provides a multimodal conversation analytic account of directive sequences used in the presence of a child aged 1;8–2;4 growing up in an English-dominant environment and acquiring Polish as a heritage language.

Design: The video recorded data are drawn from naturally occurring interactions, in which the child is present when one caregiver produces a directive turn (request, proposal, or suggestion) and another one carries it out in an embodied fashion.

Analysis: The analysis focuses on the sequential unfolding of the triadic interactions, the two adults’ and child’s verbal turns, gaze direction, manual actions, and handling of objects.

Findings: Although the child is not always verbally active in the directive sequences, she observes them and sometimes takes part, either through bodily actions or verbal utterances. The multimodal analysis also shows that even if the child’s verbal activity might indicate understanding a prior turn and responding to it, the child may not actually be orienting to the conversation. Observing adults carrying out heritage language directive sequences is only possible when the child is interacting with two speakers of her heritage language, or a speaker of that language and a person who has some passive knowledge of it. Seeing adults’ mutual social actions offers the child a social environment, in which she can get a rich linguistic model and also observe the benefits of using the heritage language in everyday interactional situations.

Originality: This is the first study to offer a multimodal conversation analysis of directive sequences in which one adult produces the directive and another adult responds to it in the presence of a child acquiring a heritage language.

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Series: International journal of bilingualism
ISSN: 1367-0069
ISSN-E: 1756-6878
ISSN-L: 1367-0069
Volume: 27
Issue: 1
Pages: 122 - 142
DOI: 10.1177/13670069221078334
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 6121 Languages
Funding: The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The study was partly conducted as a part of the Academy of Finland project in Linguistic and Bodily Involvement in Multicultural interactions.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (