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The development of communication: a study of referring expressions and other aspects of discourse in Algerian pre-school children.

Saadi, Hacene.; (1991) The development of communication: a study of referring expressions and other aspects of discourse in Algerian pre-school children. Doctoral thesis , Institute of Education, University of London. Green open access

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In the present study, a total of two experiments constitute a follow up study of the development of communication: referring expressions and other aspects of discourse in pre-school urban Algerian children. In the first experiment, the focus is on the differences between the use of definite and indefinite noun-phrase, in two conditions (freeplay/ structured play), and differences between the use of person pronouns (I, You) which are essentially deictic and the ones which are essentially intralinguistic or cohesive (3rd p: he, she, it) within the two conditions. The demonstrative pronouns and adverbs which are added in the grouping are less important with regard to the main factors of interest (definite vs. indefinite NP, and 1st and 2nd p. vs. 3rd p.), but in the global analysis they are of some interest as to the continuity from the more indexical function to the more intralinguistic or cohesive use of referring expressions. The categories which are of interest in the second experiment, are those which, strictly speaking, are used anaphorically. The person pronouns (I,You) and the demonstrative adverbs (or locatives: here, there) which were under scrutiny in the first experiment, are dropped in the second experiment. These categories of discourse are hardly found, because of the nature of the experiment, the purpose of which being the evaluation of the more intralinguistic uses of referring expressions. Unlike the first experiment which was designed to tackle both the deictic and intralinguistic uses of referring expressions by pre-school children, the second experiment was, thus, designed to measure the extent to which pre-schoolers engaged in some specific tasks (tasks which might prompt the use of some aspects of discourse), use referring expressions in their anaphoric sense, and track down these uses to their significance. Overall, the results of the present study, together with examples from other experimental data, indicate that the function of the definite article may initially be predominantly exophoric or deictic, in as much as this function signals a particular object or the actions of one salient object singled out from a group of others, in the extralinguistic context. The results of the first experiment showed a predominant presence of a developmental function (the nominative use of the definite reference) and a consistency in the appearance of such a function across categories (the deictic uses) developmentally associated with this function. The person pronouns '1"you' are typically 'exophoric' since they refer to aspects of the non-linguistic context and, by contrast 3rd p. pronouns (he, she, it, they) are essentially intralinguistic or cohesive. Similarly in the second experiment the results concerning the definite NP do agree with some recent findings about the deictic function of the definite article (which sometimes is used correctly when the object is alone, and at some other time it is used incorrectly in the instance of a non-specific reference). This, in fact, is quite different from an anaphoric or intralinguistic function: it grew out from the present data, that the apparently correct use of the definite NP is tied to situationally introduced referent and it is not truly anaphoric.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The development of communication: a study of referring expressions and other aspects of discourse in Algerian pre-school children.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Total speech sample collected for research purposes is contained in two floppy disks in the end pocket of the original thesis.
Keywords: Algeria,Language development,Preschool children,Communication skills,Speech acts
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10018565
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