FORM AND FUNCTION IN DEVELOPING NARRATIVE ABILITIES
Ruth A. Berman Tel Aviv University
The title of this chapter acknowledges the contribution of Susan Ervin-Tripp to the study of children's language. She started out by focusing on form, then moved on to function, with her current work reflecting an insightful integration between the two (e.g., in Ervin-Tripp, 1989). The present study considers the relationship between form and function in language acquisition and language development through analysis of the Hebrew morpheme ve, the counterpart of English and, in early conversational interaction and in the narratives of children aged 3 to 9 compared with adults.
In this context, the term "form" refers to closed-class lexical items such as conjunctions, prepositions, and pronouns; but it also applies to bound affixal morphemes, both inflectional and derivational (e.g., the English suffixes -ing or -ic(al)); to syntactic constructions such as relative clauses or passive voice; to syntactic operations such as left-dislocation or subject ellipsis; and to lexical expressions with modifying functions such as temporal adverbials, intensifiers, and floating operators like also, even. More problematic is the question of what constitutes a "function," in linguistic analysis as in the study of language development.2 The "function" of a linguistic form has been used to apply to any or all of the following: knowledge of discourse-sensitive factors such as maintaining and shifting reference, focus, and contrast q( Karmiloff-Smith, 1981; Wigglesworth, 1990); level____________________