ERIC Number: ED081493
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1973-Mar-1
Reference Count: N/A
Syntactic Elaboration in the Speech of Lower-Class Black and Middle-Class White Preschool Children.
Ammon, Paul R.
This study was designed to investigate the assumption that young, lower-class black children have language deficits based on the use of a restricted (as opposed to an elaborated) syntactic code. The speech of 69 black, lower-class and 30 white, middle-class 4 1/2-year olds was compared. Speech samples were elicited through semistructured picture interviews, which were tape recorded. Two types of syntactic units, verb-complement units and noun phrases, were selected for analysis. Each unit was coded with respect to features describing internal structure, grammatical function, and context in the interview. Coding reliability was reported to be at least 90% accurate in all cases. Results indicated that the total number of units produced by an average subject was quite similar for both groups. Elaborative elements added to a verb-complement (expansion units) were analyzed, and there was virtually no difference (in relative frequency) between the two groups. Expanded units were further studied for nine variables, only three of which were significantly different between groups, with one difference favoring the lower-class children. Deletions of basic constituents of sentences were analyzed, and the data showed little or no relationship to the elaboration deficit hypothesis. It was concluded that this hypothesis is not empirically supported. (DP)
Publication Type: N/A
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Economic Opportunity, Washington, DC.; Office of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: California Univ., Berkeley. Inst. of Human Learning.