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Acquisition of the sentence types at the end of preschool age
As a grammatical component syntax determines how words of various linguistic categories can be stacked in a structured sentences. The most intensive syntactic developement is observed in the preschool period, between the age of three and five years, when children begin to produce complex sentence structures. Most of five years old children successfully produce different types of complex and compound sentences. Development continues throughout their schooling, even in adolescence and adulthood, but much more slowly. Acquisition of sentence groups and types in the period before entering primary school, in the age of nearly seven and a half years, so far has been only partially assessed in the Croatian language. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the types of sentences used by children with typical language development (TLD) during storytelling. The study involved fifteen preschool children aged 6,01--7,05 years. Examination was conducted using a picture book, Frog, where are you? (Mayer, 1969), which is a highly structured incentive for testing storytelling. It consists of 24 black and white pictures without text. The results showed that preschool children produced different types of sentences with a high level of grammaticality (only 3% of the grammatically incorrect sentences). The most common are complex and compound sentences, which make more than half of all the used sentences (about a third are compound sentences, complex compound sentences make one sixth and the rarest are compound sentences, which make less than a tenth of complex and compound sentences). Among compound sentences children produce only constituent and opposing clauses, as well as clause series. Elliptical sentences were the most rarely produced. Among complex sentences the most common are object relative clauses (more than a fifth) and next to them are clauses of reason (fifth). Unexpectedly, the rarest are adverbial clauses of place (3%), clauses of purpose are more common then them (14%). However, children produced very small number of complex sentences so it will be necessary to examine a larger number of children to see whether the difference is significant.
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