Department of Linguistics

Howard and Junior: Dog Story menu

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Conversational Historical Present

Howard uses this tense to refer to the past in lines 6, 7, 90, 14, 15, 16, 17, 62.

Deictic forms

this (lines 47, 51); that (lines 9, 45, 51). We can imagine that Howard and Junior use their hands to demonstrate the size of the dog when they say this big or that big, and this and that refer to what their hands are describing.

This is also a deictic in the expression this is +actor, when it refers to an action that the speaker is making. In line 14 Howard may mime knocking at the door, or the expression may allow him to simply conjure up the image of knocking at the door. This is +actor is closely related to the new quotative expression in London, this is +speaker. Howard uses this new quotative expression to introduce a gesture (line 16) and non-lexicalised sound (woof woof in line 17). He may also be using this is me in line 3 to introduce a gesture: the laughter that follows suggests this.

Discourse markers

yeah is very frequent in this extract. It is used as a backchannel by the interviewer (lines 26, 35, 38, 50, 54, 58, 73) and to reply to a question (lines 57, 59, 66, 75). In line 3 Junior's yeah may show that he agrees with what Howard has just said but it is also a cooperative way of introducing his own turn at speaking. In line 34 Junior's yeah has the same dual function. Howard sometimes adds yeah after introducing new information: my friend (line 53) and then the friend's name (line 53). However the main use of yeah in this extract is at the end of a clause, to punctuate the discourse and to check that the listeners are following (lines 4, 5, 7, 8, 10,14, 15, 18, 26, 27, 29).


bare (lines 2, 40)

well (line 23)

Note too the use of all to scale up the force of the deictic here (line 54) and the noun blood (line 62), though strictly speaking all is not an intensifier since it does not occur before an adjective or adverb.

Non-fluency features

Generally the boys are very fluent, but there are a few false starts (e.g. lines 31 and 70). Erm occurstogetherwith false starts on lines 60 and 61, perhaps indicating that Howard was anxious to take the floor (he overlaps with Junior at line 60) and so begins speaking before he's had time to plan his utterance. There is repetition in lines 4, 6, 7, 14, 71, 72 at the beginning of the clause, suggesting that the speaker is still planning his utterance.

Whether or not Junior's repetition in lines 24, 34 and 36 is due to planning pressures it certainly adds dramatic effect to the story.

Nonstandard grammar

Past tense verb forms

For strong verbs the boys use a mix of standard English past tense forms (came, lines 4, 25) and nonstandard forms (done, line 1, stand, line 11). Junior has came as the nonstandard past participle of COME. Junior uses nonstandard was in line 74.

Note that some of these nonstandard forms may be developmental: children continue to acquire English past tense verb forms even at the age of 8.

Quotative expressions

In addition to the new this is +speaker quotative (lines 16, 17; see above), the boys use SAY (line 22)) to introduce direct reported speech and GO to introduce both direct speech (line 22) and non-lexicalised sound (line 28).

Other features

Man is an address term (like mate, love, sir) in line 71, conveying friendliness and solidarity.


Junior and Howard collaborate here to tell a story about being chased by a dog. The style is very livelyand the boys are enjoying telling the interviewer what happened. The boys' uses of the discourse marker yeah are especially interesting. The extract contains the new London quotative this is +speaker.

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Howard, male, 8, White British and Junior, male, 8, AfroCaribbean

Dog story

1 Junior: yeah this is what I done
2 Howard: he's got bare taste
3 Junior: yeah like this look this is me <both laugh>
4 I came in like I came in I came through the door yeah
5 I've came through yeah
6 and the dog the dog the dog just lives right there
7 then and then I open the door yeah
8 he was waiting yeah
9 and I jump I ju. I was like that
10 and I jumped over the dog yeah
11 lucky I never stand on it
12 but I jumped up
13 Howard: I'm scared of the dog right.
14 alright right this is this is me knocking at the door yeah
15 and I'm knocking at the door yeah
16 and this is the dog "<makes gesture?>".
17 he just went and this is the dog "woof woof woo"
18 and then I walked in yeah
19 and it was behind yeh
20 I went "whoa bwoy" <tsk>
21 and then it stopped
22 and then they said "x move away move away"
23 I was /well scared/
24 Junior: /no for real/ look look look
25 I came x
26 cos I wanted to play outside [Int: yeah] yeah
27 and I had a coat on on top of my head yeah
28 and I went "wooo" <sound effect>
29 open the door buckled jumped over the dog yeh
30 started breezing [Howard: xx]
31 started s I started r I started running I started running
32 and /then/
33 Howard: /(name)/
34 Junior: yeah I started running I started running I started running [Int:
35 yeah] yeah
36 and then and then and then yeah
37 I went to the park yeah near erm that house
38 Int: yeah
39 Howard: it was good you know
40 it was bare good
41 we went /like the same time/
42 Int: /was it was it a big/ was he a big dog?
43 Howard: eh?
44 Junior: no it was just
45 Howard: it was about that big
46 it was like a staff
47 it was this big
48 it was like here to here
49 it was just there
50 Int: yeah okay
51 Junior: no this is how big the dog chased me about that big
52 Howard: but it will chase me.
53 alright alright my friend yeah (name) yeah
54 he got bitten by a dog [Int: yeah] all here
55 his eye was sticking out
56 Int: is that (name)?
57 Howard: yeah
58 Int: yeah
59 Junior: yeah /that all a dog bit/
60 Howard: /his eye got w erm/
61 his eye h all bl here's got cut. all here.
62 on his face he's got all blood.
63 and then it it was all cut open
64 Int: oh no [Junior: and th] were you were you there when it happened
65 Howard?
66 Howard: yeah I was playing out with him
67 Int: you were playing with him
68 Junior: he got stitches
69 Int: I know x
70 Howard: but I was like
71 I went I went running up me stairs man
72 I went. I went running upstairs crying
73 Int: yeah
74 Junior: you was crying?
75 Howard: yeah

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