Relating Events in Narrative: A Crosslinguistic Developmental Study

Relating Events in Narrative: A Crosslinguistic Developmental Study

Relating Events in Narrative: A Crosslinguistic Developmental Study

Relating Events in Narrative: A Crosslinguistic Developmental Study

Synopsis

This volume represents the culmination of an extensive research project that studied the development of linguistic form/function relations in narrative discourse. It is unique in the extent of data which it analyzes-more than 250 texts from children and adults speaking five different languages-and in its crosslinguistic, typological focus. It is the first book to address the issue of how the structural properties and rhetorical preferences of different native languages-English, German, Spanish, Hebrew, and Turkish-impinge on narrative abilities across different phases of development. The work of Berman and Slobin and their colleagues provides insight into the interplay between shared, possibly universal, patterns in the developing ability to create well-constructed, globally organized narratives among preschoolers Contact Susan Barker at (201) 258-2282 for more information. from three years of age compared with school children and adults, contrasted against the impact of typological and rhetorical features of particular native languages on how speakers express these abilities in the process of "relating events in narrative." This volume also makes a special contribution to the field of language acquisition and development by providing detailed analyses of how linguistic forms come to be used in the service of narrative functions, such as the expression of temporal relations of simultaneity and retrospection, perspective-taking on events, and textual connectivity. To present this information, the authors prepared in-depth analyses of a wide range of linguistic systems, including tense-aspect marking, passive and middle voice, locative and directional predications, connectivity markers,null subjects, and relative clause constructions. In contrast to most work in the field of language acquisition, this book focuses on developments in the use of these early forms in extended discourse-beyond the initial phase

Excerpt

You are about to join us in a quest for a runaway frog. That is, the many analyses of child and adult language in the following pages are all based on the ways in which speakers provide words to a wordless picturebook devoted to that quest (, where are you?, by Mercer Mayer). Our own quest, however, is for a better understanding of the complex of linguistic, cognitive, and communicative abilities that underlie the human ability to capture and convey events in words. In that quest we have been immeasurably helped by good colleagues and students and by generous institutions.

The book itself is the result of a decade-long project which included man), of the students and former students whose research papers and dissertations have contributed to the following chapters -- from Berkeley: Ayhan Aksu-Koç, Michael Bamberg, Lisa Dasinger, Aylin Küntay, Virginia Marchman, Tanya Renner, and Cecile Toupin; from Tel Aviv: Yonni Neeman and Ziva Wijler; and from Madrid, Eugenia Sebastián. In addition, we have benefited from the contributions of colleagues -- from Heidelberg: Christiane von Stutterheim, and from Chicago and Harvard: Tom Trabasso and Philip Rodkin. Except for the last two Chicago/Harvard contributors, who were invited to contribute their independent analysis of some of our materials, the group of us have worked together through the years, on every stage of the project -- from planning, through execution and analysis, to writing. In addition, we have been joined by researchers from other countries carrying out related projects: Edith Bavin from Australia, Aura Bocaz from Chile, Hrafnhildur Ragnarsdóttir from Iceland; and Berkeley students have gone on to gather comparable data elsewhere: Guo Jiansheng in China, Aylin Küintay in Turkey, Yana Mirsky in Russia, and Keiko Nakamura in Japan. Various subgroups have met together for workshops at the Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, at Tel Aviv University, and at the University of California at Berkeley. More recently, we have benefited from the wider crosslinguistic and crosscultural insights of the Cognitive Anthropology Research Group in Nijmegen, headed by Stephen Levinson.

As the two main authors, and co-principal investigators of the project, we have worked over many drafts of all of the chapters in this book. Chapters with no author listed are the sole products of the two of us; the remaining chapters represent the joint efforts of the research team, with the responsible author(s) listed for each. In every instance, the final version has been reworked in detail by the two of us. Because this was a long and mutually interactive endeavor, we have agreed to list all of the co-authors from our project in alphabetical order in their chapters.

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