ERIC Number: ED201394
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Apr
Reference Count: 0
The Incidence of Conditional Statements in the Natural Speech of Young Children.
McCabe, Ann; Evely, Susan
This study examines the incidence and character of conditional statements ("if...then") in the spontaneous speech of young children. Twenty-four pairs of siblings, ranging in age from 2.1 years to 7.3 years, were observed and recorded while interacting in their homes for a period of 1 hour. Sixty-nine statements including "if" were selected from transcripts of the children's spontaneous speech and then were coded for logical correctness, grammatical correctness, semantic content pragmatics, and order of clauses. Overall, 62.5% of the children produced at least one "if...then" statement. Such statements were produced by 87.5% of the older children and 38% of the younger children. None of the statements included logical errors and the statements were grammatically correct in 90% of the instances. The most common grammatical error (6 of 7) involved lack of tense agreement between clauses in unreal conditionals, e.g., "if you were a paint monster, then it will..." Semantic categorization indicated that 6% of the statements involved causal relationships, 10% relationships of entailment, 22% relationships involving two events stemming from shared assumptions, and 62% events showing some relationships. Regarding the pragmatic categorization, 38% of the children's conditionals were used to offer bribes and threats, 29% were used to describe physical relationships, 16% provided information about social conventions, and 13% were explorations of potential relationships. (Author/MP)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Canada; Conditionals; Natural Language
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (Boston, MA, April 2-5, 1981).