ERIC Number: ED191266
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979
Reference Count: 0
Syntax vs. Pragmatics. A Psychological Account of Coordinate Structures in Child Language. Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, No. 17.
Greenfield, Patricia; Dent, Cathy
This study considers the interaction of syntactic and pragmatic factors (social and cognitive) in children's production of coordinate structures involving conjunction reduction. Two aspects of pragmatic context were considered: (1) the pattern of uncertainty or redundancy in a complex action sequence, and (2) the perceptual grouping of objects used in the sequence. The analysis is based on data from 94 children, half of them aged 6 and half aged 10. The children described an action sequence that involved placing a series of three differently colored beads into a cup. Half the children described the action while it was going on; the other half, after it had been completed. In addition, half the children in each of these conditions described their own actions; the other half described the experimenter's actions. Analysis of the data indicates the pragmatic factors appear to control the syntax of coordinate sentences used to describe the complex action sequence in question. These results shed some light on a current controversy in child language on the presence and role of autonomous syntax in language acquisition. It is suggested that in the case of conjoined structures, syntax is in the surface structure only and that coordinate sentences are a direct linguistic representation of the perceived structure of the referential situation. (AMH)
Descriptors: Child Language, Children, Cognitive Development, Conjunctions, Language Acquisition, Language Patterns, Language Research, Phrase Structure, Pragmatics, Psycholinguistics, Sentence Structure, Social Influences, Speech Communication, Speech Habits, Syntax, Transformational Generative Grammar, Verbal Development
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Stanford Univ., CA. Dept. of Linguistics.