ERIC Number: ED222052
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982
Discourse Organization and Sentence Form in Child Language: How Children Describe Rooms.
Ehrich, Veronika U.
Adults' and children's descriptions of rooms were compared in terms of the cognitive and communicative aspects of segmentation and linearization. Children's increasing ability to gain structural discourse transparency by using specific linguistic devices was examined. A total of 50 Dutch-speaking children of ages 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 described a room which had earlier been described by 20 adults. While the adults segmented their room descriptions according to distinct furniture groupings, this skill was not shown by the children until the age of 6, and increased with age. Adults linearized their descriptions by proceeding along the walls or according to types of furniture. No linear organization was apparent in the 4-year-olds' descriptions, but a dramatic increase in linearization was observed from ages 6 to 8. No further developmental progression was noted after the age of 8. The results show developmental changes in the coordination of cognitive and communicative aspects of discourse organization. The discrepancy in the cognitive and communicative systems decreases with increasing age. Although the subjects have gained the appropriate linguistic devices by age 8, they are unable to use these devices in such a way as to make the discourse structure fully transparent until the age of 12. (RW)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Stanford Univ., CA. Dept. of Linguistics.
Note: In its: Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, Number 21, p55-62.