Volume 32, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238



This paper explores children’s language socialization into kin-based peer relationships in Amdo, Tibet. I examine spontaneous interactions in one extended family to show how children link place and kinship using spatial deixis, the grammatical system that encodes context-dependent reference to location, in Amdo Tibetan. I analyze uses of spatial deixis in two interactive routines: (1) peer-group play, and (2) children’s scaffolding of infants’ roles in multiparty participation frameworks. I argue that children use their emerging deictic repertoires to ‘spatialize kinship,’ mapping kinship relations onto the immediate spaces of co-present interactions as well as the enduring places of the village’s geography. Previous studies have noted that culturally specific forms of relationality influence adults’ uses of deixis by shaping the pragmatics of interactive settings. Building on these insights, the data from Amdo demonstrate the need to consider cultural associations between place and kinship when examining the acquisition of deixis in early childhood.


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