|The development of predication in child language|
Doris Ann Allen
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: children, language
THE DEVELOPMENT OF PREDICATION IN CHILD LANGUAGE
Doris Ann Allen
The general purpose of this study was to describe the function-form relationships in a child's developing language, from single-word utterances to "full sentences," and to establish a methodology for examining the relationships between children's predicational structures and their underlying conceptual notions. The specific questions asked were: (1) Is it possible to explain the development of predicational structures in a body of data from single-word utterances through more complex structures? (2) Do children express different kinds of "meanings" at identifiable points in the linguistic hierarchy? (3) What is the relationship between the development of predicational structures in child language and that of the underlying conceptual and propositional constructs?
In order to answer these questions, a child named Augusta was studied intensively from her eighteenth month through her thirty-first month. The data for the study were collected in bi-monthly tape-recorded play sessions in the child's horns. The corpus submitted to analysis consisted only of Augusta's spontaneous utterances. The corpus was analyzed for syntax, sentence-type, and propositional construct-type. The investigator used sector analysis, a tagmemic grammar, as the theoretical base for the syntactic analysis. In addition, she proposed a model to describe conceptual and propositional construct categories, which were determined on the basis of the linguistic and non-linguistic contexts within which the utterances occurred. The model facilitated the analysis of the semantic intentions which seem to underlie the child's utterances.
Three major findings emerged as a result of the study: (1) Initially the child used certain specific words and/or constructions to express particular "meanings" (i.e., conceptual constructs). (2) Each of these form-meaning composites initially occurred with only one or two functions, manifesting specific tagmemes--which later became generalized to manifest a number of different tagmemes. (3) Each of the propositional construct-types had its own particular manifesting tagmemes.
These findings suggest the conclusion that a child's utterances may, from the onset of linguistic production, be characterized as different kinds of "propositions" which have "predication" as the only obligatory component in the initial stages. Later in the child's development, he is able to "refer" and "predicate" linguistically within the same utterance. However, even after referring and predicating occur simultaneously, there seem to be limitations on the kinds of conceptual relations which can be linguistically coded.
The conclusions suggest that while syntactic analysis alone is insufficient for explaining the development of predication, a tagmemic-type analysis such as sector analysis in conjunction with a prepositional construct analysis provides a viable methodology for investigating the relationships between a child's conceptions of the world and his linguistic encoding of these conceptions.