Spanish diminutives in mother-child conversations

Gigliana Melzi, Kendall A. King

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The present study examined gender and age patterns of diminutive use in conversations between 32 Spanish-speaking Peruvian mothers and their three- and five-year-old children. Results confirm previous findings concerning both parents' greater use of diminutives with younger children and children's early acquisition of this complex aspect of morphology. However, findings do not support previous studies on gender differences in parental use of diminutives with young children. Results also revealed that mothers' and children's imitations of their interlocutors' diminutized words promoted their interlocutors' overall diminutive use. This finding highlights the acute sensitivity of both speakers to each others' language and the potential role of imitation in older children's language development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-304
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of child language
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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