“Buffy sings to Cody”: A multimodal analysis of mother and pre-lingual-infant question–response sequences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examines how singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie and her pre-lingual infant son, Cody, engage with each other in the sequential turn-taking process of conversation on a 1978 episode of Sesame Street. A multimodal analysis demonstrates that Cody relies on the audible prosodic contours of his mother's questions to provide responses by producing cries and relevant embodied behavior at “transition relevance places” (Sacks et al., 1974). Buffy treats her son's responses to her questions as consequential parts of the interaction, and this in turn supports her son's language socialization. This study contributes to understanding how communication before language can occur through a reliance on prosody and via cries and relevant embodied behavior, and how turn-taking and sequencing can also be scaffolded through prosody and singing, which are ultimately conducive to language socialization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-62
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017



  • Discourse analysis
  • Embodied interaction
  • Language socialization
  • Prosody
  • Turn-taking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

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