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Two experimental studies investigate the extent of 3- and 4-year-olds' relative dependence upon contextual and linguistic information as they discriminate between presentations of Requests from Offers, and Requests from Questions presented in contexts. Contexts are manipulated systematically, and quantity of linguistic information in the presentations is progressively reduced. While younger subjects' discrimination of each speech act appeared relatively unaffected by reduction of linguistic information, the older subjects' performance was relatively adversely affected. We consider a developmental shift in speech act comprehension strategy from an early more context-based approach to a later, more heavily text-dependent approach, perhaps linked to continuing development of linguistic awareness.
Samples of the communicative behavior of a group of higher-level mentally retarded adults engaged in conversation with peers were examined for indications of mature linguistic competence, specifically, grammatical morpheme and complex sentence use. The findings confirmed the expectation that the eventual level of mastery of these aspects of linguistic competence in higher-level retarded individuals is relatively high. Evidence for a normal developmental progression in the mastery of the grammatical morphemes was also forthcoming. In an analysis of individual complex sentence structures, no relationship was found between relative frequency of use of different types of complex sentences and presumed order of acquisition. However, subjects' ability to combine complex sentences did appear to be related to the presumed order of acquisition, although other factors may have also contributed to this relationship. Unexpectedly, a significant negative correlation was observed between relative frequency of complex sentence use and an estimate of conversational communicative competence. A possible reason for this finding was discussed.
The relationship between sign language rehearsal and written free recall was examined by having deaf college students overtly rehearse the sign language equivalents of printed English words. In studies of both immediate and delayed memory, word recall was found to increase as a function of total rehearsal frequency and frequency of appearance in rehearsal sets. The serial recall curves in both memory experiments evidenced a primacy effect, which was interpreted as resulting from increased rehearsal of the words in the initial positions over the course of the list. In contrast to findings from previous short- and long-term memory studies with normally hearing subjects, neither a recency nor a negative recency effect was found. High imagery words were rehearsed and recalled slightly more frequently in immediate memory, but there was no effect resulting from the different imagery values of the stimuli in delayed recall. These results are discussed in relation to current conceptualizations of memory and of linguistic processing by deaf individuals.
This study asked whether lexical availability affects the length, complexity, order of mention, and fluency of children's utterances. Lexical availability was manipulated through discourse support (present or absent) and word frequency (high or low) for 40 target nouns. Length was indexed by mean number of words per communication unit. Complexity was indexed by mean number of verbs per communication unit. Earlier mention was measured by mean number of words preceding the target word in each communication unit. Thirty-six subjects, aged 4, 6, and 8, described 40 illustrations containing a high or low frequency target noun referent. In the discourse support condition, provided for one half of the target words, subjects named the target word prior to the description task. Results showed that the number of responses containing the target word varied with age, word frequency and discourse support condition; length of responses varied with age and its interaction with discourse support; earlier mention varied with age and discourse support condition; and fluency varied with discourse support condition. The results are discussed from the viewpoint of Bock's process model of sentence production.
The percentage of unclear cohesive ties in the conversation of schizophrenic speakers is significantly higher than in a group of psychiatric patients with mixed diagnoses, mostly affective disorders. This measure of cohesive weakness is not related to the verbal IQ of the patients.
This finding was obtained in patients who were not prejudged to be thought disordered and was based on the analysis of all of their utterances during a ten minute interview. It is concluded that cohesive weakness is a more frequent characteristic of the language of schizophrenic speakers, compared to its incidence in the conversation of psychiatric patients in different diagnostic categories, with the possible exception of manic syndromes.
Three groups of subjects who used English as a second language and who were considered to be at different levels of proficiency in English participated in a study of transfer of learning from English to Yoruba, their native language, and from Yoruba to English. It was predicted that total transfer from one language to the other would decrease with increasing proficiency in English and that transfer from Yoruba to English would be higher than from English to Yoruba at lower levels of proficiency in English. Findings showed rather that total transfer increased with increasing proficiency in English and that transfer from English to Yoruba was higher than from Yoruba to English for all groups. It is concluded that on a verbal transfer task, bilinguals show development from independent to interdependent language systems with increasing proficiency in a second language.