ERIC Number: ED196298
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980
Reference Count: 0
Discourse Factors in the Acquisition of Wh-Questions. Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, Number 19.
Merkin, Susan; And Others
The spontaneous speech of seven children was monitored for "wh" questions. The children were observed longitudinally from about age 24 to 36 months. The pattern of development with regard to the deletion of non-obligatory verbs revealed that "what,""where," and "who" questions presented increasing verb ellipsis, while "how" and "why" questions presented an expansion of utterance length. "Why" questions, which were characterized by an abundance of descriptive verbs, exhibited the greatest verb cohesion and linguistic contingency, indicating that the source of linguistic contingency was the verb relation in the prior adult utterance. A large number of descriptive verbs also occurred with "how," but "how" showed the least verb cohesion, indicating that the children were not depending only upon the linguistic context for the source of their use of descriptive verbs. It appears, then, that shared verbs in discourse is only a part of the explanation of the differential occurrence of descriptive verbs with "wh" forms. It can be assumed that the use of descriptive verbs is also a function of the meaning and structure of the different "wh" forms themselves. (JB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.; National Institutes of Health (DHEW), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: Stanford Univ., CA. Dept. of Linguistics.