ELTE BTK Magyar Nyelvtudományi és Finnugor Intézet

Sääskilahti, Minna (Oulu)

nyomtatható változat

If-clause in the conversations of primary school students

Classroom is a context where language has a very significant role and classroom discourse has been extensively studied (Bailey et al. 2008: 608–609). My presentation is motivated by my research that examines the development of children’s argumentation skills at primary school and my data consists of educational conversations recorded in Oulu Teacher Training School. The class that participates in my research studies philosophy once a week and the recordings were performed during the lessons of philosophy.

My data shows that if-clause is a common feature in students’ conversations:

01 Anu:     sillon-han     aje-tta-is         kolare-i-ta           jos  ei              o-is
    then-CLI    drive-PASS-COND    crash-PL-PART  if    NEG.3SG be-COND    then we would smash up our cars if we didn’t have
02    mittää     sääntö-j-ä        vo-is         ajja-a
any    rule-PL-PAR        can-COND.3SG    drive-3SG
any rules one could drive
03    vaikka    toise-lla         kaista-lla   
even    other-ADE        lane-ADE
even on a wrong lane
04    jos    ei    o-is     sääntö-j-ä
if    NEG.3SG    be-COND    rule-PL-PAR
if we didn’t have any rules

The frequency of if-clauses in students’ conversations suggests that if-clauses have special functions in children’s philosophical discussions. I analyse also the structure of if-clauses in students’ conversations. For example, Finnish if-clauses vary in clause order but typically if-clause precedes the main clause. In addition, indicative and conditional mood have specific semantic functions in Finnish if-clauses. (Hakulinen et. al. 2004: 1059, 1081–1083.) This variation occurs also in my data. Since classroom interaction cannot be separated from the broader sociocultural contexts (Bailey et. al. 2008: 610), I examine my data also from the perspective of sociocultural context (Fetzer 2007: 9–12).

Language of the presentation: Finnish


Bailey, Francis – Burkett, Beverley – Freeman, Donald 2008: The Mediating Role of Language in     Teaching and Learning: A Classroom Perspective. – Bernard Spolsky and Francis M.     Hult (ed.), The Handbook of Educational Linguistics. 606–625. Oxford: Blackwell     Publishing.
Fetzer, Anita 2007: Context, contexts and appropriateness. – Anita Fetzer (ed.), Context and     Appropriateness. 3–27. Amsterdam: John Benjamin’s Publishing Company.
Hakulinen, Auli – Vilkuna, Maria – Korhonen, Riitta – Koivisto, Vesa – Heinonen, Tarja Riitta –     Alho, Irja 2004: Iso suomen kielioppi. Helsinki: SKS.