Subject NP patterning in the development of text production: Speech and writing

Dorit Ravid, Elisa Rosado, Janet Van Hell, Anita Zamora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


This papere xamines how choice of subject NP types and structures changes in the development of text construction, and the extent of variation in the developmental patterns which are produced in speech and in writing. The population forthis study consisted of 80 participants—40 grade-school children and 40 university—level adults—with 20 participants in each of fourlanguages: Dutch, Hebrew, English, and Spanish. The database foreac h language-specific analysis consisted of 40 grade-school texts and 40 adult texts. In each group, half were spoken texts and half written, half were narratives and half expository texts: Altogether 320 texts. All subject NP slots in each text were counted and classified by category of realization (zero, pronoun, or lexical), by pronoun type (personal vs. impersonal), and by lexical complexity (terminal NPs governing a single lexical noun vs. non-terminal NPs governing more than one lexical noun). In general, the written expositions of adults are the preferred site for lexical subjects and for non-terminal subjects. Among both children and adults, narratives contain more personal subject pronouns, and expository texts contain more impersonal pronouns. Several cross-linguistic differences emerged (mainly between Spanish and the other three languages), reflecting differences in the syntactic, inflectional, and pronominal patternings of the target languages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-93
Number of pages25
JournalWritten Language and Literacy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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