Parental Speech to Middle- and Working-Class Children from Two Racial Groups in Three Settings

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The speech of 9 middle-class black, 9 middle-class white, 9 working-class black, and 9 working class white parents to their preschool children was examined during picture identification, free play, and a meal. The groups were found to be similar in the level and form of parental labeling. The groups differed in the information the parents supplied about objects in the various settings, in the parent's direction of the child's behavior, and in parental sensitivity to the child's age. Within the working-class groups, the frequency of vernacular features in the parents' speech correlated with the quality of information they provided.