Complex Sentences: Acquisition of Syntactic Connectives and the Semantic Relations They Encode

Bloom, Lois; Lahey, Margaret; Hood, Lois; Lifter, Karin; Fiess, Kathleen

The acquisition of connective forms and the meaning relations between connected clauses in the development of complex sentences is described for four children from two to three years of age. The major results of the study include the developmental interactions between syntactic connectives and meaning relations, and between these interactions and the discourse environments in which they occurred. The first syntactic connective the children learned, and, was the most general: semantically, and was used to encode conjunction with all of the different conjunction meaning relations in the order Additive < Temporal < Causal < Adversative. Other connectives were semantically more specific, and were learned subsequently with different syntactic structures in the order Conjunction < Complementation < Relativization. These results are discussed in terms of FORM, relative linguistic complexity; CONTENT, the intersection of form with conceptual and semantic factors affecting acquisition; and USE, discourse cohesion.


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Also Published In

Journal of Child Language

More About This Work

Academic Units
Human Development
Cambridge University Press
Published Here
September 13, 2016