Syntactic Development across Genres in Children's Writing: The Case of Adverbial Clauses
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Abstract

Syntactic Development across Genres in Children's Writing: The Case of Adverbial Clauses

Philip Durrant, Mark Brenchley and Rebecca Clarkson (2020)
Journal of Writing Research, 12(2), 419-452

Corpus linguistic methods can provide detailed and statistically robust information about how children's written language develops as they progress through their education. Such data can inform both models of written language development and curricular policies and practices. To this end, the current paper focuses on subordination as a key site of syntactic complexity. Using a corpus of 240 texts written by children aged 6 to 16 in England as part of their regular school work, it quantifies how the most common type of subordinate clause (the adverbial clause) varies across year groups and genres in terms of frequency, internal complexity and semantic function. A complex developmental picture emerges with length and frequency of finite vs. non-finite clauses changing in distinct ways across primary vs. secondary education. These patterns are found to be closely related to discipline- and genre-specific developments in the main functions for which adverbial clauses are used.

PDF | doi: 10.17239/jowr-2020.12.02.04

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