De ontwikkeling van syntactische formuleervaardigheid bij kinderen van 9 tot 16 jaar
Van Wijk, C., & Kempen, G.
De ontwikkeling van syntactische formuleervaardigheid bij kinderen van 9 tot 16 jaar. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor de Psychologie en haar Grensgebieden, 37
An essential phenomenon in the development towards syntactic maturity after early childhood is the increasing use of so-called sentence-combining transformations. Especially by using subordination, complex sentences are produced. The research reported here is an attempt to arrive at a more adequate characterization and explanation. Our starting point was an analysis of 280 texts written by Dutch-speaking pupils of the two highest grades of the primary school and the four lowest grades of three different types of secondary education. It was examined whether systematic shifts in the use of certain groups of so-called function words could be traced. We concluded that the development of the syntactic formulating ability can be characterized as an increase in connectivity: the use of all kinds of function words which explicitly mark logico-semantic relations between propositions. This development starts by inserting special adverbs and coordinating conjunctions resulting in various types of coordination. In a later stage, the syntactic patterning
of the sentence is affected as well (various types of subordination). The increase in sentence complexity is only one aspect of the entire development. An explanation for the increase in connectivity is offered based upon a distinction between narrative and expository language use. The latter, but not the former, is characterized by frequent occurrence of connectives. The development in syntactic formulating ability includes a high level of skill in expository language use. Speed of development is determined by intensity of training, e.g. in scholastic and occupational settings.