Verbal structure and content in written discourse: Expository and narrative texts

Hrafnhildur Ragnarsdóttir, Dalia Cahana-Amitay, Melina Aparici, Janet Van Hell, Anne Viguié

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This paper forms a bridge between the article on noun phrase patterning by Ravid et al. 2002 and that on passive voice constructions by Jisa et al. 2002. The study reports on a cross-linguistic, developmental study of verbal structures and verb types used in two genres of written discourse: Personal narratives and expository texts. The study is aimed at (a) establishing the profile of linguistic features that characterize and differentiate these two genres; (b) identifying the developmental changes beyond middle childhood that lead to the proficient use of a full repertoire of verbal structures in the construction of both types of text; and (c) providing fresh empirical evidence for crosslinguistic similarities and differences in the linguistic devices used for Genre differentiation. The paper begins to address these issues by considering quantitative aspects of Genre differentiation in four age-groups (gradeschool children, junior high school, high school, and adults) and in five languages (Dutch, French, Hebrew, Icelandic, and Spanish).We expected narratives and expository texts to be characterized by contrasting distribution of the categories that we analysed—verb tense, aspect, mood, voice, and person—across the age—groups and languages under study. To test this prediction, all verbs in our sample were analysed using common coding procedures in all five languages, followed by a statistical analysis of the frequency distribution of each coded category (as our dependent variables) across Age and Genre in each of the languages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-126
Number of pages32
JournalWritten Language and Literacy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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