Female juvenile delinquents' pragmatic awareness of conversational interactions

Dixie D. Sanger, Karen Hux, Mitzi Ritzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Standardized testing has shown that juvenile delinquents have a high incidence of communication problems; however, discourse analyses have failed to confirm pragmatic deficits. This study's purpose was to explore, using qualitative procedures, the pragmatic awareness of female juvenile delinquents concerning conversational interactions. The 45 participants engaged in small-group conversations about communication during multiple class periods. On-line field notes served as the data and were used to determine emerging patterns of verbal and nonverbal communication behaviors. Identified themes included (a) active listening; (b) body position; (c) eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures; (d) utterance types; (e) topics of conversation; (f) politeness and honesty; and (g) conversational management. Results suggested that juvenile delinquents can state many conventions governing conversational interactions; however, some do not always display interactional behaviors consistent with their pragmatic awareness. Discrepancies about pragmatic awareness are discussed in terms of the underlying nature of communication challenges in delinquent populations. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-295
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Delinquents
  • Females
  • Metapragmatics
  • Pragmatics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • LPN and LVN
  • Speech and Hearing


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