Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, Vol 5, No 2 (2014)

Verbal play as a discourse resource in the social interactions of older and younger communication pairs

Samantha Shune, Melissa C. Duff
Issued Date: 31 Jul 2014


Verbal play, or the playful manipulation of elements of language, is a pervasive component of social interaction, serving important interpersonal functions. We analyzed verbal play in the interactional discourse of ten healthy younger pairs and ten healthy older pairs as they completed a collaborative referencing task. A total of 1,893 verbal play episodes were coded. While there were no group differences in verbal play frequency, age-related differences in the quality and function of these episodes emerged. While older participants engaged in more complex, extended, and reciprocal episodes that supported the social nature of communicative interactions (e.g., teasing), younger participants were more likely to engage in verbal play episodes for the purpose of successful task completion. Despite these age-related variations in the deployment of verbal play, verbal play is a robust interactional discourse resource in healthy aging, highlighting an element of human cognition that does not appear to decline with age.

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DOI: 10.1558/jircd.v5i2.193


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