Thursday, 27 May 2010

Example Analysis of Spoken Transcripts

Language Analysis Text A

Francis Katamba’s findings were that parents most frequently use the definite article ‘a’, whereas children acquire this after ‘ing’ and ‘s’ endings.This is supported by the fact that in Text A the mother encourages the use of the definite article, ‘a’, by repeating it before every noun. The mother has to give the child the definite article:
• M: Its not a cot. It’s a ….
• A: bed
However there is one scenario where the child uses the definite article
• M: Not a chair (1.0) a
• A: a TABLE
But this is the only instance where the definite article is used by Anna because she has been prompted to use it. So as Katamba identified, the parent uses the definite article much more frequently than her child What is more, the child fails to use the possessive ‘s’ A: Post Pat Chair or any ‘ing’ endings

Skinner said that language is acquired through operant conditioning. Those utterances that are rewarded/reinforced become stronger. Negative and positive reinforcements are used in this transcript:
• M: Good Girl -encourages a correct answer
• M: Not a chair –Highlights an incorrect answer
The operant conditioning provokes a correct answer from Anna on every occasion. This theory was supported also by Pavlov who believed that children learned through association.

Chomsky vs Bruner
The LAD cited by Chomsky refers to the predisposition of a child to language acquisition through a set of language learning capacities. Bruner argues that if this is the case there must also be a LASS (Language Acquisition Support System) such as parents or teachers that the child can learn from. It frames or structure the input of language and interaction in the child's LAD, in a manner to make system function. Bruner’s argument is supported in the text, following the use of questions by
• M: do you like beans
• A: I like beans
This was successful since later in the text the child announces unprompted: I like sausage. Without the mother asking, therefore the child has learnt from it’s experience of society’s support.

Vygotsky vs Piaget
Vygotsky’s ZPD ( Zone of Proximal Development) is similar to the LASS as it argues that a child can only perform language functions with the assistance of someone else. This person is the scaffolding process. He would argue that the child demonstrates the linguistic skill termed intermental learning. This is when a child can interact with the help of another person but cannot accomplish ‘decontextualisation’

Piaget argued that too much scaffolding/ teacher involvement hinders the child’s acquisition of language since it suppresses their cognitive functions. In relation to the text this is proved as the the topic management of M, prevents the child initiating or exploring her own ideas and language. M is testing the child on knowledge and recognition of nouns eg: M: Whats that? A: Post Pat chair. This is limiting the child from developing more complex syntactical structures. However, Brown and Fraser suggest that nouns are what children repeat most, as a test in 1963 demonstrated. So perhaps the mother is simply utilising this fact.

Brown - MLU
Brown uses MLU to judge the competence of a child’s use of language. Anna’s MLU is 1.6. Is this because scaffolding is hinder her expression or is Anna vocabulary simply limited by her age?

The Transcript
The child's language is very personal and egotistical ‘I like beans’. So the mother is important in teaching the child beyond this about other people in the wider world.
The child is in the telegraphic stage, and so the lack of complexity means certain parts of information are omitted. This makes the child's language very reliant upon pragmatics, that an adult caregiver is essential in interpreting, especially in the one-word utterance ‘Lunar’. If the adult was not present and perhaps, interaction was with another child, then language acquisition would be slower as the child may not understand the underlying context. The parent controls the topic management, therefore the child is grammatically only developing declarative sentences, not interrogatives.

The mother uses a similar method to teacher - scribe, but for the acquisition of spoken language. M asks what the object is and once identified, then reinforces this with the written text.

Although the child understands concepts of ‘he’ and ‘him’ when used by the mother, she does not use them herself. This suggests that the child understands the context and is likely to use pronouns in future situations, thus the adult caregiver is a source of information.

Pol and Pax in the Salty Red Sea - Children's Book Dissection

Pol and Pax in the Salty Red Sea
Nelson ‘New Way’ Series, Orange Level
How The Text Teaches
 The sentences are in extended paragraphs on separate pages. There is not one line to a single page, this indicates that the children reading this type of text are at a higher reading level and place less dependence on the amount of visual contextualisation through pictures to understanding the meaning of the text.

 There is a mixture of long and short sentences with varying complexity. As a child would now be familiar with short simple sentences there are examples of both compound and complex syntax.
 There is a mixture of both present and past sentences to familiarise children with grammatical structures and to introduce them to more complicated verbs.
 Future: We’ll have to look in our sea and river atlas.”

 Past: “He had caught a small shark.”
 Compound: “They eat a slice of brain food every day and this makes them as clever as they need to be”
 Complex: “They wanted to see which of them could catch the strangest fish”
 There are interrogatives: “Can you please tell me how I can get to the salty red seas”
 Declaratives: “We only east brain food.”
 and Imperatives: “Please go and get it.”

“They wanted to see which of them could catch the strangest fish”
 In the sentence above the phrase ‘which of them’ is the object of the first clause and the subject of the second. This is a far more complicated order than younger texts and so develops their understanding.
 The text however still avoids passive sentences, as this ellipsis can confuse children at this age. (orange level is ages 5-6).

Monday, 24 May 2010

George Reading Transcript

George is being helped to learn reading but an array of techniques, including the mother’s use of feedback, correction and positive reinforcement. There is also evidence of the synthetics phonics teaching method which has bee used to teach the child. There has been much recent debate regarding the correct methods to teach young children to read. This is mainly due to a strong emphasis on synthetic phonics and there is evidence supporting this style of teaching showing children’ reading ability to be far greater than children taught reading by other methods.

Within the text it appears the child uses phonics. The method is also taught to George by his mother who, when he is unsure of a word, tells him to “sound it out” which George does based on the individual phonemes of the word “sandbag” (). George omits the phoneme (de) which is correct by his mother. This error, which is clearly virtuous as it will later aid his learning, occurs later in the text in which he reads “sandbags”. With his mother’s emphasis (through her intonation) on 2sand”, George corrects his error. However, it is arguable that through the use of “look and say” method this mistake may not have been made as he would have seen the letter “d”.

Another virtuous error occurs in line 17 in which George omits the plural for “houses” and merely says “house”. This is corrected by the mother saying “watch the endings”. This error could have been caused by two things, either that George is trying to read on from one line to the next too quickly and therefore misses the plural or that he is not yet fully aware pluralisation and needs to learn the rule. The speed he is reading seems likely as he make three further errors in this way such as “never” instead of “need”, “upstairs” rather than “upset” and “made” rather than “may”. This errors made by George are from seeing the first two letters of the word and pronouncing words he knows which begin with the same letters and fit into the sentence. This basis for predicting the words is shown by his mother’s statement “it looks like upstairs, doesn’t it”. However, this may be a reference to the look and say method in which George has registered that the word resembles “upstairs”. George’s error with “upstairs” may also suggest that George is reading for readings sake, rather than for meaning.

The mother’s role in the process is vital in aiding her child’s development. This is not just in form of correcting any mistakes but in the form of positive and negative reinforcement, a behaviourist approach from B. F. Skinner. George’s mother uses positive reinforcement in abundance through the use of praise word: “well done” and “good boy”. These statements encourage George to keep reading and to do so using the techniques he is already employing. Even corrections are done in a positive way shown by the elongated vowel cluster in “noooo”. It is likely her intonation would rise at this cluster, making it friendly and aiding development. Any corrections are followed by more positive reinforcement such as “that’s it” to avoid discouraging him. The mother also invites George to interact with the book by the use of interrogatives: “what do you think is happening?”. This enables her to check he understands the plot and what he has read.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Language Change List of Things to Look For


  • How is cohesion created?
  • Is there evidence of contrasting registers?
  • Is there evidence of dialogue or narrative structures? Are there any interpersonal features?
  • Is there evidence of different discourse conventions?
  • Is there one general viewpoint or several?
  • Is the register formal or informal?
  • Is there a difference in purpose between the texts or in an older text compared to your knowledge of modern texts?


  • Is the reader expected to recognise and identify with specific societal roles?
  • Is the reader expected to share social codes and values?
  • Is the reader expected to accept particular roles and responsibilities?
  • Is the reader expected to accept particular social attitudes/ cultural assumptions?
  • What attitude is expressed about language: prescriptive or descriptive?
  • Are assumptions made about the readers’ knowledge and understanding?
  • Is there evidence of changing values or ideologies?


  • Is there obsolete lexis or for old roles and practices?
  • Is there archaic language or archaic slang?
  • Is the lexis Latinate, or of classical derivation, or polysyllabic or formal? Are the collocations archaic or unfamiliar?
  • Are there unusual allusions e.g. classical or religious?
  • Are there any unexplained references?
  • Are there differing specialist terms?
  • Is there evidence of borrowing, clippings conversion, neologisms or coinages?
  • Does lexis suggest technological development?
  • Are there any emotive overtones to the lexis?
  • Is there evidence of colloquial or slang lexis? Is the lexis of Old English origin or short words or informal? *Is it largely intelligible and familiar?
  • What influence has technology had?


  • Identify the semantic fields
  • Are there specific connotations, metaphors, innuendo or figurative language?
  • Is there evidence of semantic shifts or changes
  • Is there any pejoration or amelioration?
  • Is there anything significant in the terms of address, are there politeness markers?
  • Is there any difference between the texts in the degree of implicitness?
  • Is the text accessible and easy to understand?
  • Is there any relevance in how much authority the text has?
  • Are there examples of special collocations or metaphors?


  • Are grammar choices formal or informal?
  • Does syntax seem outdated? Does it suggest a classical style? Are there any complex or Latinate grammatical structures? Is there any unfamiliar syntax?
  • Comment on the verb forms, adverbs, pre-modification.
  • Are prepositions used differently?
  • Are there differences in conjunctions/punctuation?
  • Do the texts use modal auxiliaries? What do they convey?
  • Does the text use pronouns for immediacy of address
  • Are any questions used without auxiliary verbs?
  • Are minor sentences used?
  • Are there any variations in sentence length and complexity?
  • Is there use of syntactic parallelism or repeated sentence structures?
  • Do the texts use the forms of informal speech?
  • Does the text use a lot of imperative, declarative, exclamative or interrogative sentences?
  • Orthography
  • Are capital letters used differently?
  • Do texts use different letter forms e.g. the long s
  • Are words abbreviated in a familiar way?
  • Are there any differences in spelling or punctuation?
  • Are there competing or unusual spellings?
  • Are spellings similar to modern English?
  • Are there approximations of foreign spellings or unusual letter strings for English spelling?
  • Are plurals formed differently?
  • Does the spelling in the texts relate to your knowledge of standardization?
  • Are conventions related to technology?


  • How are fonts used, for example - to assist discourse structure/for emphasis?
  • How are illustrations used?
  • Are there different design or layout conventions, for example - bar code, price and logo slogans?
  • Is there a greater use of graphological devices to signal text structure, for example - space-shifting, textboxes, bullet points; or systematic, colour coded layout, headings.


  • What sort of societal roles are implied?
  • How does the text position the reader?
  • What are the shared social values?
  • What attitudes to the text are assumed?
  • Is there an authoritative tone?
  • Is there a religious context assumed?
  • Is there an assumption about the reader’s education?
  • Is there evidence of a prescriptivist attitude?
  • What principles are assumed to be self evident, true or desirable?
  • What stage of language development is exemplified in the text?
  • Is the use of language very specific to this type of text or can you generalise?

Other Issues

  • Situational as well as temporal variation.
  • What can be assumed about the audience and how the text is read e.g. is the text intended to be read aloud?
  • What is the social and linguistic context?
  • Can you find any relationship to key/landmark texts you are aware of? (e.g. Lowth’s grammar; Johnson’s dictionary)
  • What evidence does it supply about attitudes to language change?
  • What evidence is there of attitudes to gender, class and ethnicity?
  • What evidence is there of the society’s different technologies and priorities?
  • What sort of situation produced this text? What are the genre conventions of this text?
  • What sort of priorities is does the author/audience seem to have?
  • Can you make connections with other texts you have seen?
  • Does it reflect specific economic or scientific priorities of the time?
  • What comparisons can you make to modern texts/use of language?
  • Does the text represent the views of a particular section of society?

Research coverage

  • Stronger answers will place the text within a sociolinguistic and socio-cultural perspective.
  • Some students will be able to make connections between this text and other texts they have encountered.
  • There may be references to other developments relevant to language change including those in education, economic development and popular culture.
  • Can you show differences in situational as well as temporal variation- you are aware of how the situation in which this text is produced influences the language as well as when it was produced.

Temporal variation

  • Technological context e.g. relatively unsophisticated print methods of older texts.
  • The more Informal and conversation style of modern texts.
  • Change in attitudes towards language: grammatical preoccupations of previous years, compared with communicative competence model of modern texts.

Language Change Guide

Flowchart demonstrating language change


As society change, so does language. We are living in a world that has become technical (language and technology). Are we becoming lazier with language? Lifestyles have changed and the pace of life is quicker; we expect instant communication (text messaging, e-mails). Features language change include controversy, resistance and social values.

Changes in accent and dialect

  • William Labov study (Martha’s vineyard)
  • Urban accents (Estuary English)
  • Prestige (BBC English, RP)
  • 15th Century – The Great Vowel Shift
    Tochter – dochter – daughter
    Nacht – night – nite?
    Leisure – ‘zh’ pronunciation, also applies to measure, pleasure and treasure
    Swan and man; obey and tea (word that used to rhyme and few centuries ago but not today.
    Interest, every, factory, nursery, cursory, desultory – ‘uh’ sound (ə = schwa)


  1. Outlaw – he was an outlaw (noun); outlawed (verb)
  2. Record – that was a good re'cord (noun); I was going to record a song (verb)
  3. Rebel – he was a rebel (noun); he rebelled (verb)
Emphasis on vowel if the word is a noun.
Emphasis on vowel if the word is a verb.

Grammatical Multifunctioning

Using a word in more than one grammatical function.

Noun to verb

  1. Garage – put the car in the garage; I will garage the car
  2. Party – that was a good party; let’s party

This is becoming more common with prepositions, for example, I’ve been outed as a homosexual or to down a pint. This is multifunctional but very recent. Preposition to verb is a big move in language change.

Attitudes to language change

  • Standard English – right and wrong (National Curriculum, for example). Should it remain constant or should it change? People start making judgements about language change.
  • Prescriptive – laying down rules which are very exact, for example, compu’er (the ‘t’ must be added). In other words, what English language SHOULD be like.
  • Descriptive – language change is inevitable, for example, Sainsbury’s (some add the apostrophe, others do not). In other words, what English language IS like.
  • Golden Age - when did people, speak the same, write in the same handwriting and spell coherently?
  • It is almost impossible to stop language changing (evolution)
  • What is proper English? Issues of race, class, gender and location.
Issue ‘Good’ English ‘Bad’ English
Race White people’s language Other ethnic backgrounds
Class Middle and upper classes Working class
Gender Male language is dominant Female language is deviant
Location South East England – RP, BBC English Any other accent/dialect

The beginnings of global English

  • Significant period in English: Middle English – Early Modern English (15th, 16 and 17th centuries).
  • There should not have been any reason for language change because people never travelled far (within three miles) and only talked about predictable things (weather, money, work, family, food etc).
  • Over the past thousand years, language change was very slow, until invaders visited the country.
  • The Renaissance – rediscovery of learning occurred during the 15th century. More people were educated and breaking away form the repressive authority from the church, which controlled learning. People were travelling frequently, more medical discoveries and freedom of thought.
  • Many borrowings from Latin, Greek (languages of education and thought), French (language of luxury and style) and Italian (language of the arts – growth of theatre encouraged new words). Words became naturalised in English language. This is still very consistent in the 21st century.
  • Shakespeare invented over 3000 words such as lovely, skim milk and mountaineer. He mainly extended words or put two words together.
  • 16th and 17th centuries were the age of travel. There were borrowings from Spanish and Portuguese languages (words tended to end with vowel sounds such as banana, tobacco and canoe) and settlement from America, which was already settled by the Spanish. Many cigarette companies are named after American towns, for example, Marlboro (a town in West Virginia).
  • English was looked down upon and then became as good as Latin when expressing love, due to Shakespeare’s work. It is beginning to become a global language.
  • Lexis was borrowed from explorations, nowadays the main influence is media and technology.
  • 1610 – The Authorised Version of the Bible was published for the masses. Full of phrases such as eat sour grapes, the skin of my teeth and the salt of the earth.
  • The main five world languages originate from Indo-European languages, but have evolved sounds which cannot be understood in English language, for example, China, Japan and India.

Review of language change

The earliest known languages spoken I the British Isles were Celtic, whose descendants survive today in the form of Welsh, Scots and Irish Gaelic and Cornish.

First the Romans (55BC onwards) and then the Anglo-Saxons (up to AD1000) helped shape what became known as English.

Until the emergence of an accepted form of Standard English from the fifteenth century, different dialects were spoken. This important development was partly due to technological (the invention of the printing press) and social factors. The power and prestige of those who spoke the East Midlands dialect ensured that this was the dialect that became accepted as ‘correct’ English.

The pre-eminence enjoyed by English in the world today is a result of political and economic factors – first, the extension of the British Empire, and in the twentieth century, the power of the USA.

Observable changes in accent can take place over a relatively short period of time, and are closely related to questions of social class and identity.

Linguistic change is constant and inevitable, but can also be the subject of complaint and controversy.

Table of Language Change

Pre-1st century AD Britain inhabited by Celts, or Britons People spoke varieties of Celtic languages, the roots of Welsh, Gaelic, Irish, Manx and Cornish. Partly as a result of what happened to the Celts later (they were displaced by the Anglo-Saxons), relatively few Celtic words survive in modern English. However, numerous place-names (Penrith, Leeds, York, Thames and Avon) remind us of our ancient roots.
1st – 5th centuries The Romans occupied mainly England There was some limited influence from Latin on the native language during this period. Some Latin words have survived, but the major Latin influence of English was to come much later. Many place names, such as Manchester, Lancaster, Chester and Worcester derive from this period. A few other words of Latin origin which survive, such as street, port, wine and wall may also date from this period.
5th – 8th centuries Invasions of the Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons and Jutes)

Christianity adopted (587)
The Celtic language was displaced except in Wales, Scotland, Cornwall and Ireland. Old English developed from the Germanic dialects of the invaders, which varied according to where the different tribes were settled.

This was the true beginning of English; many of the basic grammatical words (the, in was, etc.) and many everyday nouns and verbs derive from this period.

The Latin alphabet was adopted and Latin was used by the educated elite and in church.
Old English – a considerable body of literature from this period survives. It is very foreign to modern eyes, and requires special study to understand it, as in this example from the poem Beowulf:

Hwaet we Gar-Dena in geardagum,
Peodcyninga pryn gefrunon
Hu da aepelingas ellen fremedon

(So by the Spear-Danes in days gone by,
And the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes’ heroic campaigns.)

8th – 11th centuries Viking invasions The Vikings’ language (Norse) was close enough to the Anglo-Saxon of the inhabitants to allow communication between the peoples. The Vikings took over many of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, particularly I the north and east of the county. Many Norse words have passed into Standard English – get, take, angry, awkward, they, she – and even more have survived in the dialects of the north where some pronunciations and grammatical forms of dialects are also Scandinavian in origin.
11th – 14th centuries 1066:the Normans invaded, led by William the Conqueror
Norman French and English co-existed
Following the Norman invasion, there was a French-speaking power bas – the court, the church and major landowners were mainly French-speaking, while the populace spoke English.

During the twelfth century English was more widely used by the upper classes and in 1362 was used for the first time at the state opening of parliament. By 1425 English was used universally in speech and writing.
This was the beginning of the Middle English period; there was an inevitable flow of vocabulary from Norman French (itself heavily based on Latin) into English. English not only survived but was enriched by the language of the invaders.

This period also saw the loss of many Old English word endings (inflections), many of which were replaced with the prepositions by, with, from etc.

Much Middle English literature survives and is reasonably accessible to patient modern readers. This period also saw the beginnings of a major change in English pronunciation: the Great Vowel Shift.
15th- 17th centuries Printing invented (William Caxton set up his press in 1746)

Many Greek and Latin texts were translated into English
There was a gradual acceptance of a standard form of English, made necessary by the increasing dissemination of printed materials. Early modern English: In the period 1500 – 1700 many more words entered the language than at any other period.

New words were needed for new concepts and an influx of Latin and French words resulted.

This period of world exploration also brought words from the language of Africa, Asia and the New World.

The Great Vowel Shift was completed – and the pronunciation of English began to stabilise.

This was also the age of Shakespeare, himself a great coiner of words.
18th – 19th centuries The search for a standard, pure form of English Attempts to define the vocabulary and grammar of English led to the establishment of the prescriptive ideas about correctness. Non-standard varieties were viewed as inferior; Latin was upheld as an ideal language and a model for English dictionary writers and grammarians tried to lay down rules for correct usage. This was the age of the dictionary, when writers tried to ‘fix’ spellings and meanings.
  • 1721 – Nathaniel’s Bailey’s Universal Etymological Dictionary
  • 1755 – Samuel Johnson’s English Dictionary
  • 1762 – Robert Lowth’s Short Introduction to English Grammar
  • 1762 – Lindley Murray’s English Grammar
19th century - present The Expansion of British and American English In the nineteenth century, rail travel colonial expansion, the spread of literacy and education and the printed word extended access to standard and written forms of English.

Electronic media extended this process in the twentieth century; meanwhile, American economic and political power succeeded that of the British empire to ensure the spread of English as a world language.
American English was starting to become noticeably different from British English.

English continues to absorb loan words from language across the world. Grammar and pronunciation see few major changes, but in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, a drift towards more colloquial and casual styles of language in many contexts reflect major social changes.

American English increasingly influence British English and English worldwide.

Timeline of English

Before English began - up to ca. 450 AD

British (Celtic) tribes - language related to modern Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Irish (Erse) · Only real connection with Modern English is in lexis (mostly in place names).

Origins of English - ca. 450 AD to 1066

Angles, Saxons and Jutes arrive from north Germany · Language (Old English) is at first spoken · only writing is runes · Written form comes from Latin-speaking monks, who use Roman alphabet, with new letters (æ, ð and þ - spoken as "ash", "eth" and "thorn") · About half of common vocabulary of modern English comes from Old English · Word forms vary according to syntax (inflection, case endings and declension) and grammatical gender · Vikings establish Danelaw · some erosion of grammar and addition of new vocabulary.

Middle English Period - 1066 to 1485

Lexis - terms for law and politics from Norman French · General expansion of lexis, esp. abstract terms · Case-endings, declension and gender disappear · Inflection goes except in pronouns and related forms · Writers concerned about change · want to stabilize language · 1458 - Gutenberg invents printing (1475 - Caxton introduces it to England) · the press enables some standardizing.

Tudor Period - 1485 to 1603

Rise of nationalism linked to desire for more expressive language · Flowering of literature and experiments in style · idea of elevated diction · Vocabulary enlarged by new learning Renaissance) · imports from Greek and Latin · Lexis expanded by travel to New World, and ideas in maths and science · English settlers begin to found colonies in North America. In 1582 Richard Mulcaster publishes a list of 7,000 words with spelling forms, but this does not become a universal standard

The 17th Century

Influences of Puritanism and Catholicism (Roundhead and Cavalier) and of science · Puritan ideas of clarity and simplicity influence writing of prose· reasonableness and less verbose language · English preferred to Dutch as official tongue of American colonies.

The 18th Century

Age of reason · Ideas of order and priority · Standardizing of spelling (Johnson' s Dictionary of the English Language in 1755) and grammar (Robert Lowth's Short Introduction to English Grammar in 1762 and Lindley Murray's English Grammar in 1794)· Classical languages are seen as paradigms (ideal models) for English · Romantic Movement begins · interest in regional and social class varieties of English.

The 19th Century

Interest in past · use of archaic words · Noan Webster publishes American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828 · British Empire causes huge lexical growth · English travels to other countries and imports many loanwords · Modern language science begins with Jakob Grimm and others · James Murray begins to compile the New English Dictionary (which later becomes the Oxford English Dictionary) in 1879

The 20th Century and beyond

Modern language science developed · descriptive not prescriptive · Non-standard varieties have raised status · Ideas of formal and informal change · Modern recording technology allows study of spoken English · Influence of overseas forms grows · US and International English dominant · English becomes global language (e.g. in computing, communications, entertainment).

19th Century Changes

The 19th Century.

The 18th Century saw a period of standardisation in terms of orthography, phonology, grammar and even semantics. Johnson’s Dictionary and Lowth’s guide to grammar stand out as crucial texts in the period (- but there were many more!)

However it would be a mistake to think that “Modern English “ of the late 18th and 19th century is not noticeably different to the language we might use today. Not only are there huge issues relating to technological advances, occupational varieties of English and ever-changing colloquialisms, but the actual grammatical style of texts can also be seen to subtly shift.

Many authors writing in the 19th century would have been brought up with Lowth’s “Grammar”, while idea of “correctness” are common themes in many novels in this period (the work of Austen, for example). The function of grammar as a social marker can be seen in many literary texts from the 19th century, such as the work of Austen. As the use of grammar was under the microscope for these authors, it is in some sense not surprising that we see at this time some very convoluted and formal grammatical / syntactical structures.

Task 1: rewrite the italicised word / phrase in its contemporary form.

I am so glad we are got acquainted
So you are come at last!
What say you to the day?
She doubted not..
Fanny shrunk back…
And much was ate…
It is a nothing of a part…
To be taken into the account…
Will not it be a good plan?
It would quite shock you…would not it?
He told me in our journey
She was small of her age
I stood for a minute, feeling dreadfully
It is really very well for a novel
The properest manner…
The richest of the two…

Identify from the following list which aspect of grammar the 16 examples of grammatical change relate to:
Adverbs Articles
Irregular verb forms Prepositions
Tense usage Use of auxiliary verbs
Comparative adjectives Use of contracted forms

Checklist of things to look out for…

One of the difficulties you might face when asked to identify changes in grammar in a passage or a document is to know exactly what you should be looking for. Here are some important questions, together with some brief examples, that you can use to examine and passages you may encounter.

1) verb inflections (e.g pleaseth / pleases; gotten /got; think’st / thinks)
2) Formations of the past tense (e.g. My life is run its course / My life as run its course)
3) Use of modal and auxiliary verbs (especially “do”)
4) The personal pronoun system (e.g. thou / thee / ye)
5) The relative pronoun system (e.g. Our father which are in heaven / Our Father who are in heaven.)
6) Formation of negatives (e.g. I see not / I do not see, I cannot see no longer / I cannot see any longer)
7) Noun and adjective endings of inflections ( e.g. mankinde / mankind)
8) Formation of plurals (e.g. shoon / shoes)
9) Sentence structure
10) The use of prepositions

Language Change Theorists

Language Decay
The 18th century view of language was that languages naturally fell into decay because of society’s decadence or disinterest, i.e. people took their language for granted and were sloppy in their use of it; some of the results of this sloppiness stuck fast and the language changed accordingly to suit. As evidence, scholars pointed to the fact that older languages tended to depend on highly complex grammatical inflexions – word endings – to show their grammatical function in a sentence (for example, the ‘show possession rule’ in Old English was ‘add the suffix, –es’). Over time, it can be shown that the number of inflexions dropped, and in the case of modern English, we have almost done away with the need for inflexions.

Unfortunately for this theory, it has (at least...) one major flaw. Even though the number of inflexions has dwindled, other parts of speech such as the use of auxiliary verbs (such as ‘do’, ‘will’, etc.) have evolved to take their place; also syntax (word order) has now become very important to clarity of meaning. And it is true that anything that can be expressed in the ancient tongue can still be expressed equally subtly today. Ultimately, this theory is highly subjective, as it relies on personal opinions, not scientific facts, regarding what is ‘highly evolved’ and what is ‘decadent’. This is not, therefore, science.

This idea that language is a very special thing and, thus, needs preserving is still in evidence today. It’s certainly true that it is special and what separates us from the beasts! But how far should this go? The French have a language academy, a government department no less, to monitor language change and to try to prevent some of it occurring. Here, teachers and much of the media choose to use a kind of ‘gold standard’ prestige variety or dialect of English called Standard English. The problem with this ‘gold standard’ is that it tends to create a hierarchical system in which some regional and social dialects become looked down upon, despite the fact that even the most extreme dialects have regular grammatical structures and work perfectly well to express sophisticated and subtle ideas.

Natural Law?
Another theory says that language is an entirely natural process and that language changes are automatic and therefore cannot be observed or controlled by the speakers of the language. What is, to the human ear, a single ‘sound’ is actually a collection of very similar sounds. This is called ‘low-level deviation’ from an ‘idealized form’. The argument is that language change is simply a slow shift of the ‘idealized form’ by small deviations ‘a bit at a time’.

The obvious problem here is that without some kind of reinforcement, the deviation might go back and forth and cancel out any change. The theory was then extended to try to accommodate this problem by adding reasons for reinforcing the deviation such as simplification of sounds, or children imperfectly learning the speech of their parents and the imperfect form eventually becoming dominant.

This ‘simplification of sounds theory’ suggests that certain sounds and sound combinations (e.g. butter – with the phoneme ‘t’ sounded) are easier to pronounce than others, so the natural tendency of the speakers is to modify the hard-to-say sounds to easier ones (e.g. bu’er – with a glottal stop instead of the phoneme ‘t’). Another example of this would be the Italian word ‘cam-e-ra’ meaning ‘room’ changing into early French cam-ra. As it is hard for English speakers to say /m/ and /r/ one after another, this became ‘simplified’ by adding /b/ in between, to /cambra/ (and so leading to modern French ‘chambre’). A more recent example is the English word ‘nuclear’, which many people pronounce as ‘nucular’, ‘government’ as ‘goverment’, ‘Arctic’ as ‘Artic’ and so on.

The problem with this part of the theory is that since not everything in a language is hard-to-pronounce, the process would only work for a small part of the language, and could not be responsible for a majority of sounds changes. Secondly, it is highly questionable to determine whether ‘nucular’ or ‘nuclear’ is easier to pronounce. You’ll get different answers from different people. Simplification no doubt exists, but using it as a reason (not a symptom) of language change is probably too subjective to be scientific.

The other part of this theory suggesting that children incorrectly learn the language of their parents, doesn’t hold water either. If we look at an extreme case in the form of immigrants into England, what is found is that the children of immigrants almost always learn the language of their friends at school regardless of the parents’ dialect or original language. In fact, children of British immigrants in the United States nearly always speak with one of the many regional American accents. So in this case, the parents’ linguistic contribution becomes less important than the social group the child is in. Which leads to theory number three…

Social Bonding?
This theory is a social one and has been advocated by the eminent American linguist, William Labov.

What Labov found was that a small part of a population begins to pronounce certain words that have, for example, the same vowel, differently from the rest of the population. This occurs naturally since humans cannot all reproduce exactly the same sounds. However, at some later point in time, for some reason, this difference in pronunciation starts to become a signal for social and cultural identity. Others of the population who wish to be identified with the group either consciously or (more likely) unknowingly adopt this difference, exaggerate it, and apply it to change the pronunciation of other words. If given enough time, the change ends up affecting all words that possess the same vowel, and so that this becomes a regular linguistic sound change.

We can argue that similar phenomena apply to grammatical change and to lexical change. An interesting example is that of computer-related words creeping into Standard English, such as ‘bug’, ‘crash’, ‘net’, ‘e-mail’, etc. This would conform to the theory in that these words originally were used by a small group (i.e. computer scientists), but with the boom in the Internet everybody wants to become technology-savvy. And so these computer science words start to filter into the mainstream language. We are currently at the exaggeration phase, where people are coining weird terms like ‘cyberpad’ and ‘dotcom’ which not only drive some people crazy but also didn’t even exist before in computer science.

Labov’s theory of language change sounds much more plausible than other previous theories; and it is the latest theory... Humans are, after all, social animals, and we rarely do things without a social reason. We are also deeply bitten with the idea of superiority and power, and so Labov’s social theory of language change – and no doubt others that will follow, do seem to make the most sense.

Why Language Changes

Well, no one knows for sure. But what we do know is that changes rarely happen overnight. People do not wake up one morning and decide to use the word ‘beef’ instead of ‘ox meat’ (but they might wake up and coin a new word!). Generally, language changes are gradual, particularly changes in the phonological (sound) and syntactic (grammar) systems.

Of course, certain changes may occur instantaneously for any one speaker. When a new word is acquired the process is not gradual, although full appreciation for all of its possible uses may come slowly and with trial and error. I can remember liking the new word esoteric, but I can equally remember being laughed at when I first used it (I got its meaning wrong). Now I use it correctly – which isn’t very often!

And when you incorporate a new rule into your grammar, it is either in or not in your grammar. It may at first be an optional rule, so that sometimes you use it and sometimes you don’t – maybe this is to do with the context. But the rule is either there and available for use or it is not.

What is gradual is the spread of change over an entire speech community.

A basic cause of change is the way children acquire language. No one teaches a child the basic rules of grammar – each child constructs his or her personal grammar alone, generalizing rules from the linguistic input received from parents, teachers and other sources. We know that a child’s language develops in stages until it approximates that of adult grammar.

But a child’s lexicon and grammar can never be exactly like that of the adult he or she comes into contact with because of the varied linguistic input received. So, certain rules may be simplified or overgeneralized, and vocabularies may show small differences that accumulate over several generations.

The older generation may be using certain rules optionally. For example, at certain times they might say ‘It’s I’ and at other times ‘It’s me’. The form society sees as the less formal style tends usually to be used with children and friends, whose linguistic requirements are invariably less formal. So the next generation may use only the ‘me’ form of the pronoun in this construction – if this happens, the grammar will have changed. Of course, there will always be pressure to retain an older form, particularly if it is a more formal or ‘standard’ grammatical construction. The eighteenth century especially took language particularly seriously and wanted to codify its rules, hence the proliferation of dictionaries that tried to fix both spelling and meaning (and so, to a lesser extent, pronunciation); grammar books also abounded and these aimed to fix word order (syntax) and word form (morphology) as Standard English.

The reasons for some changes are relatively easy to understand. Before televi¬sion there was no such word as television. It soon became a common lexical item. Borrowed words, too, generally serve a useful purpose and their entry into the language is not mysterious.

Other changes are more difficult to explain. The ‘Great Vowel Shift’ in English is one such case. We have some plausible explanations for some of the phonological changes in languages. Some of these changes are due to physiological mechanisms to do with the shape of the mouth and ‘organs of speech’. Some sounds and combinations of sounds are ‘easier to pronounce’ than others (perhaps for different peoples this is especially so – I found the French accent easy, but many do not. I later found that my great-grandmother was French). One example is the change from hoofs to hooves; the –fs phonemic pair is now harder for many people to articulate than the –ves phonemic pair and so the easier pronunciation has caught on.

Another example is that vowels are frequently ‘nasalized’ before nasal consonants because it is difficult to change the shape of the mouth sufficiently quickly – for example ‘on’, ‘in’ ‘am’. When one sound affects another, the process is called assimilation; in this case, the preceding vowel assimilates to the nasality of the following nasal consonant. Once the vowel is nasalized, the contrast that the nasal consonant provided can be equally well provided by the nasalized vowel alone, and the redundant consonant may be deleted. The contrast between oral and nasal vowels that exists in many languages of the world today results from just such a historical sound change.

An example of how such assimilative processes can change a language is in the word key, the /k/ is articulated forward in the mouth in anticipation of the high front ‘palatal’ vowel /i/. In cot, the /k/ is pronounced farther back in anticipation of the low back vowel /a/. The /k/ in key is said to be slightly ‘palatalized.’

Such assimilative processes gave rise to an important theory about how languages change. It is called the theory of least effort. According to this theory, sound changes are primarily due to an economy of effort. This suggests not so much that we prefer the lazy option but, perhaps, that we try to fit the most language into the shortest time. So we tend to assimilate one sound to another, to drop out un¬stressed syllables, slur syllables together, and so on. Try saying ‘Ten Pence’ or ‘Seven Pence’. Do you say tempunce or sevempunce? Most people do – at least in informal conversation. Equally ‘three pence’ becomes ‘thruppence’, and so on. You can probably think of other examples easily yourself.

Another reason for change is thought to be caused by economy of memory. This results in a reduction of the number of exceptional or irregular morphemes (those parts of a word that change its meaning, e.g. the morpheme –ed, which creates the past tense form of most verbs). This kind of change has been called internal borrowing which mans we ‘borrow’ from one part of the grammar and apply the rule more generally. It is also called analogic change.

For instance, the original plural of cow was kine, and the plural of eye was eyne. So by analogy with plurals such as foe/foes and dog/dogs we probably started to say cows and eyes – and these gradually caught on. Similarly, by analogy to reap/reaped, seem/seemed, and ignite/ignited – children and some adults are presently saying sweeped the floor, rather than swept. Also, I dreamed last night (instead of dreamt), and She lighted the bonfire (instead of lit).

The same kind of analogic change is made clear by our regularization of exceptional plural forms, which is a kind of morphological change. We have bor¬rowed words like datum/data, agendum/agenda, curriculum/curricula, memorandum/memoranda, medium/media and criterion/criteria, to name just a few. The irregular plurals of these nouns have been replaced by regular plurals among many speakers: agendas, curriculums, memorandums, criterias. In some cases the borrowed original plural forms were consid¬ered to be the singular (as in agenda and criteria) and the new plural is therefore a ‘plural-plural.’ Also, many speakers now regard data and media as nouns that do not have plural forms, like information. All these changes lessen the number of irregular forms that must be remembered.

The theory of least effort does seem to account for some language change; but it cannot account for others. Simplification and regularization of gram¬mar occurs, but so does elaboration or complication. So we are not just getting lazy! Old English rules of syntax became more complex, imposing a stricter word order on the language, at the same time that case endings (inflexions were being dropped or simplified. A tendency toward simplification is counteracted by the need to limit potential ambiguity so, in this case, syntax tended to become more complex. Much of language change is a balance between elaboration and complication.

It has been said that some changes are created by children while they learn the language. Although the exact reasons for language change are still elusive, it is clear that the imperfect learning of adult dialects by children is a contributing factor. Similarly, a social preference for a particular regional dialect seems to lead to change in the adult world. The use of the stretched a in grass, path and bath, and the quite recent adoption of the Cockney ‘glottal stop’ rather than the phoneme ‘t’ in words such as ‘bottle’ and ‘butter’ is an example of dialectal change (in this case the growing preference for the accent of the Thames Estuary – called “Estuary English”. Whether such change is a fashion or permanent remains to be seen. Certainly many American dialects words and pronunciations have entered English permanently.

Interestingly – Estuary English is itself strongly related to Cockney – but it avoids many parts of Cockney – which seem to be considered less desirable. It is very interesting to consider this picking and choosing – many “Estuary English” speakers seem to be using Estuary English to sound more ‘streetwise’ or more ‘ordinary’ (rumours are that Mr. Blair once started to use it). Yet, clearly, it is important not to sound too ordinary!

Many factors clearly are responsible for language change:

• simplification of grammars
• elaboration of grammars to maintain intelligibility
• borrowing
• lexical additions
• dialectal change

Perhaps language changes for the same reason that all things change: it is simply the nature of things to change. An ancient Greek teacher called Heraclitus once said: ‘All is flux. Nothing stays still. Nothing endures except change.’

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Reading Stages and Guide

Background information

* Most people read by sounding out graphemes and forming phonemes.
* Yacht – strange words
* Dual method – 2 processes when reading
1. Direct access – pronounce each word e.g. det, cat, bat
2. Grapheme, phoneme conversion
* Use previous experience to help with new words.
* Look at the words more sophisticatedly
* The frequency of the word and the neighbouring words affect the way we pronounce each word.

Theory 1: FRITH 1985

3 Stages to a child’s development of reading.
* Pronounce individual letters
* Letters are connected with sounds
* Child can only link words to one phoneme

* Child is more comfortable with the alphabet
* Can combine graphemes to make longer phonemes. E.g. ‘th’

* Recognise a string of graphemes without having to decode them
* Greater phonological awareness – recognise more sound patterns
* Analogy – compare and apply patterns and rules.

Theory 2: CHALL 1983

6 stages to child’s development of reading.
Stage 0: PRE READING (birth to 6 years old)
* Children pretend to read, turn pages of books and repeat what they have previously had read to them.
* Rely on images to determine what the text is saying.
* Use logographic info to guess the words.
* Realise words are made up of sounds
* Recognise rhyme and alliteration

Stage 1: INITIAL READING/ DECODING STAGE (6-7 years old)
* Able to read simple texts.
* Relies heavily on text and focuses on visual images.
* Realise letter combinations represent sounds.
* Become aware of vowels and vowel sounds.

Stage 2: CONFIRMATION & GLUING STAGE (7-8 years old)
* A child can automatically decode words.
* High levels of comprehension and reading
* Ability to become more fluent
* Can control pace and are comfortable with reading situations

Stage 3: READING TO LEARN (8-14 years old)
* Reading to learn and acquire new knowledge
* Before this child relied on environment and speech
* Words mean a lot more to them
* Able to bring previous experiences and knowledge to the reading.
* Learn facts from a singular view point
* They need direct reconstruction
* Learn to read narrative texts.

Stage 4: MULTIPLE VIEW POINTS (14-18 years old)
* Begin reading and dealing with multiple view points
* Analyse and react critically to different view points
* Able to deal with layers of facts and able to edit them
* Able to deal with complex texts.

* Read in detail and completeness to fulfil purpose (education)
* Aware of relevant and irrelevant information
* Can form their own opinions and ideas from what they read
* More interest shown = more info that is remembered
* Ability to criticise and question texts.

Exam Essay January 2004 AQA Spec B - Model Answer

A model answer taken from

*Caveat - Please be aware this is a MODEL answer*
The transcript has been set in both a domestic and a child’s play context, and the fact that the speakers involved are of a completely different linguistic capability due to age, makes the interactions all the more interesting. Although the playgroup assistant tries to address the children at the same level, using the same register, there are pragmatic connotations of patronisation because he/she is involved at a much deeper intellectual level. The way in which the caregivers interact with the children says a lot about their preferred methods of language acquisition, and there is clear evidence of Piaget’s theory of egocentric speech. The children, particularly Victoria are clearly using language to explore the environment around them, and attempt to include the adults in their own imaginary world. This also links in with Michael Halliday’s taxonomy which states that labelling is one of the fundamental aspects of language. The children feel a need to use declaratives and exclamations to state what is happening around them and what they are doing to try and help others understand them and try to understand themselves.
In terms of initiation of conversation, the caregivers are usually responsible, because although they are clearly looking down on them in terms of register and cannot really address them at their same level, they are trying to develop the topic, encourage socialisation and get the children into the habit of giving reasons for their actions, and appreciating the larger picture. For example, when Sophie is talking about how she is making her cake with playdoh, the Playground Assistant cleverly responds with two cleverly placed interrogatives: “you rolled it out did you Sophie? (2.0) who helps mummy bake?”. Here, she is re-capping what has happened and encouraging Sophie to think at a deeper level by making the connection between her child’s play and real baking at home. At an even deeper pragmatic level, the assistant is hinting at Sophie’s capability as a cook and suggesting that she should help her elders. Sophie plays along, and the conversation develops as she gives a piece of her “cake” to the playgroup assistant, perhaps because it gives her a feeling of superiority and motherliness. The assistant rewards this development by rewarding her with positive reinforcement.
In fact, the behaviourist theories of Skinner are clearly evident in this transcript, as the caregivers constantly reward the children for good behaviour and speech, by thanking them and using deictic declaratives such as “that’s there” and “like that” to guide them. However, I found the techniques fairly unusual compared to research that I have carried out myself. I filmed a session at a playgroup party which my cousin of 20 months attended, and found that the language used by the carers there also used negative reinforcement and correction, and that many of the statements had an interrogative tagged on the end, such as “wow that’s very pretty, isn’t it?”, in order to constantly demand interaction and response from the children themselves.
The lexis and grammar used by the children is often non-standard as would be expected at such a crucial learning and language development stage. Perhaps the most obvious grammatical variation is the use of overgeneralization by Sophie, Victoria and Jordan (who imitates the others) when they say: “it’s ate” and “you’ve been eaten again”. Here, the children have attempted to be adventurous and use the past tense, though they clearly unaware of the fact that the past participle of the verb “to eat” is irregular, and is therefore “eaten” not “ate”. This backs up Chomsky’s idea that we have a built-in LAD (language acquisition device). This is because it is obvious that the children have been made aware of a grammatical rule and have attempted to use it, but still do not know of the contexts where the rule does not apply or where there are irregularities. Also in this example, there is some confusion as to whether to use the active or the passive voice. Perhaps they are trying to say that the cake has been eaten, and then carried the rule forward when they meant to use the possessive pronoun “yours” to say “your cake has been eaten again”. Although these key auxiliary verbs have been omitted, it is still fairly easy to understand the semantic meanings the children are trying to display. One could deduct that although the children are being minimalistic in their grammatical approach, they are able to express themselves fairly well.
In cases where the child does not know the semantic label for an object, instead of guessing (which would result in a mismatch), they tend to use an adjective to try and interpret what they mean, e.g. “look at the blue”. Although it is unclear to us as the reader what object Victoria is referring to, the other people in the situation are likely to know what she means, particularly as it is likely that this exclamation was accompanied by paralinguistic features.
The caregivers themselves sometimes use non standard grammar, which is evidence against Skinner’s ideas on imitation; because it could be argued that this non-standard grammar will have an effect on the grammar development of the impressionable children. The main example of this is when the playgroup assistant asks “Sophie gave it you?” The removal of the preposition ‘to’ is common in informal speech and many dialects but may cause confusion if the children think that indirect verbs such ‘give’ and ‘speak’ do not require the construction ‘to’ after them.
The lexis is mostly monosyllabic for simplicity reasons, and more emphasis is placed on the content of speech rather than on the lexical capacity of the children, because the transcript was written in a context of child’s play and social interaction is more important than linguistic education. There are lots of concrete nouns within the text such as ‘cake; and ‘playdoh’, and although there is a lack of abstract concepts within the lexis, there are distinct pragmatics of friendship, duty and helping one another. There are lots of verbs, as there is an emphasis on actions, and some of them are particularly dynamic such as ‘scream’, ‘break it in two’, and ‘cutting up’. This is because the environment is very active, and there is an impression that the caregivers are struggling to keep the children under control.
Phonologically speaking, there are some examples of reduplication, and although theories suggest that this is outgrown at a much younger age, it is evidence that children still like to play around with sounds and explore language by babbling. As Vygotski says, egocentric speech is something we never outgrow and we actually rely on it. Timmy takes the word ‘do’ and then experiments by making a rhythm/song by repeating this syllable.
The language of the playground assistant is not particularly lexically diverse, though he/she clearly has a greater lexical capacity than the children. Instead of using this however, he/she tends to make the instructions more visual by giving demonstrations, pointing at things and handing out objects. The caregivers use simple sentences, easily accessible syntax and lots of demonstrative pronouns to keep the children’s interest whilst also encouraging them to learn new words such as ‘floury’ and ‘elephant’.
The negotiations and interactions of the parent is noticeably different to the methods used by the playground assistants, possibly because they have a closer and more informal relationship with their child, and they feel a lesser responsibility towards their social development at playtime. After all, the playgroup assistant is paid for this purpose and will have received relevant training. The parent prefers to use negative reinforcement: “oh my goodness me (1.0) scream the house down”, and there are heavy connotations which suggest that noise is bad, and that the child is notorious for being overly noisy and therefore an annoyance to the parent.
The playground assistant however, is constantly provoking a personal response from the children by using direct imperatives and interrogatives, never letting her attention wander, and allowing herself to be involved with the conversation at all times whilst almost distancing herself and encouraging the children to play amongst each other. He/she acts as a mediator and is clearly trying to keep the peace and do what is fair and unbiased. The caregivers try to get involved by developing the ideas of the children and trying to join them in their imaginary world, however the language they use is more phatic and realistic rather than heuristic, suggesting that they are unable to connect with the children at their level. For example, the playgroup assistant asks the children: “is it frying in the pan”. Some crying and laughter follows this suggestion, meaning that the children did not accept or follow on from this idea. The children are clearly absorbed in their play and do not appreciate such interruptions because they do not conform to their agendas.
The playground assistant is highly successful in displaying power whilst also being friendly and approachable. She makes suggestions and gives justification for most of her imperatives so she does not give an impression of being extremely strict, e.g. “you’ve got to roll it like this Jordan (2.0) so that it’s really thin”. The register is mainly very informal, but it is still obvious that the playground assistant has the most power in the room, perhaps even more than the parents, because he/she is the only one who uses imperatives and really engages with the children. He/she is the one who asks the questions and gives the children options such as “does anyone want to do an elephant shape?” In fact, one could deduce that the assistant has actually earned the power in the situation by listening in on the game and trying to involve herself with the imaginary world, whereas the parent struggles to do this and thinks only of the behaviour of his/her children. The overlapping and interruptions of the text only occur to the caregivers’ expense, suggesting that the children have the underlying power because they can create more havoc and easily outnumber the adults.

Selection of Sample Paragraphs from a Student

* It appears that Ewan becomes a bit worried that he will cause Holly to drop out of their role play game, due to his aggressive tone. He repeats the proper noun ‘Holly’ in order to grab her attention and says the verb ‘playing’ once again using a declarative where he should be using an interrogative, although this could be drawing attention to what he is doing in order to encourage Holly

* Ewan senses Holly’s disinterest in the game by his imperative “don’t go home yet Holly”. As soon as his is reassured of her interest in the game, he immediately reverts to his bossy nature again. We can see this when Holly says “that’s my money” to which he replies “no that’s my money”. He is already aware of the idea that the person with the money carries the power.

* Both children have awareness of shop role play and the structure of a transaction the structure e.g. turn taking, of the conversation used in a shop between a customer and shopkeeper; for example line 11 of text B;
Holly: How much is that
Ewan: Ten p please
Although despite Ewan’s imperatives, he still uses politeness strategies, such as “please” which is indicative of Macnamara’s theory of children being able to innately read into social situations. This is also true of Holly’s awareness of the structure of playing shop in that she uses the negative “not yet”.

* The discourse structure, is about negotiating how the game will be played. Therefore there are questions asked about what should be done and who should play what roles. Also, both children make suggestions as to what they should do in the game, however, it appears to be Holly who is setting the tone, giving the ideas and a clear grasp of the conversational structure in this context. For example, she makes a number of suggestions: "come and buy something (2) come and buy anything"

* Holly is making a helpful suggestion by saying "come and buy something (2)", but as the pause implies, she gets no response from Ewan, and hence, alters the noun "something" to "anything" in her choice of lexis. This also highlights her interest in the game compared to Ewan’s lack of at this stage; however, later on the roles appear to switch, when Ewan becomes more interested:
Holly: would you like cashback
Ewan: Do you like cashback
Holly: Yes please

* Holly is the more advanced of the two as she is using the conditional verb form in "would you" , which is quite advanced for a girl of this age. Ewan, however, does not know how to use the conditional as he uses the ungrammatical question “do you like cashback”, when he really means “would you like cashback”. Holly accepts the role of the customer without protest, despite the fact that it’s clear that they both want to be the shopkeeper.

* Holly is clearly trying to bring further imaginative dimensions to the play. The sentence ‘now you say, would you like cashback’ shows her further knowledge and attempt to apply it to play to give herself more power – also seeming to understand the connotations and actions behind the noun “cashback”. However Ewan does not comply with her instructions, saying instead, ‘do you like cashback?’ and also says this out of turn, which could be seen as imitating Holly’s knowledge of “cashback” and adjusting it to his own statement.

* When they discuss holiday destinations it becomes a competition over who’s been on the most prestigious holiday. Ewan encourages Holly to ‘go Blackpool’ with the train ticket to which Holly replies, ‘Blackpool is a horrible place’, and ‘Magalluf is a much nicer place’, using declarative to draw attention to herself and make a judgment. Ewan insists but ‘but my Blackpool is nice’ using the possessive pronoun of “my” either to emphasise his preferment or to defend the place to Holly. It is obvious that Holly’s holiday sounds more exotic and expensive, thus she wins in the battle of prestige.

* Clearly the conversation opens with Ewan protesting that he wants to take the role of being the shopkeeper. He clearly feels that the role of being the shopkeeper is of greater prestige and importance than being the customer, and hence, assigns the role to himself. This is a imperative statement in the guise of a declarative, but comes across in this form due to his lack of grammatical knowledge. He telegraphs the phrase “I want to be the shopkeeper” into “me shopkeeper”. This is a phase of language development that all children go through, however, on occasions he does have more carefully structured statements.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Virtuous Error

A virtuous error is:

• When children make a mistake by over-generalising or over-applying a rule to words.
• This usually appears in spelling, speaking word endings and phonetic errors.

Cohesive features used in writing

• Connectives
• Punctuation – full stop, colon
• Order of the text
• Tenses used
• Paragraphs
• Headings, sub headings
• Consistency of audience
• Anaphoric references – referring to the past - last week
• Cataphoric references – referring to future – later on
• Continuity of style
• Conventions followed
• Structure
• Illustrations
• Layout
• Consistency of sentence lengths

Register and Pragmatics

• Understanding register is the next step
• Children need to learn that vocabulary choices and grammatical constructions affect the overall tone.

• As writing matures – pragmatic awareness becomes more sophisticated
• This maybe experimenting with a humorous or serious tone.
• There may be a developing idiolect in the writing and an awareness of audience.
• It is less mechanical

Perera and Britton


• Chronological - Relying on action words (verbs), linking through connectives
• Non-chronological - More difficult to write, based on connections between ideas.

• Expressive – The first mode that resembles speech – often with first person perspective (based on personal references).
• Poetic – Encouraged early on as is creative – involves using rhyme, rhythm, adjectives and similes.
• Transactional – Secondary school – the essay style – impersonal style and tone with formal sentence structures and features that signpost ideas.

BARCLAY 1996 – Seven Stages

BARCLAY 1996 – Seven Stages
Random marks on a page
Writing and scribbles are accompanied by speaking

Writing + drawings
Produce wavy lines which is their understanding of lineation
Cursive writing

Letters are separate things.

Usually involves writing the name as the first word.
Child usually puts letters on a page but is able to read it as words.

Child spells in the way they understand the word should be spelt- own way.

Attach spelling with sounds.

Are able to spell most words.

Children's Writing

The ways in which a child spells

Doubling consonants – e.g. breezzy, dissappeared
Spell phonetically – e.g. ment, brite
Stressed and unstressed letters – knife = nife, stomach = tomach
Vowel combinations – i.e. ‘I comes before e’ e.g. coulourful
Suffixing and prefixing – e.g. living = liveing
Initial letter – e.g. England = Ingland
Mixing homoephones – Sail and sale etc

Official Titles

Adding extra letters
Leaving out letters
Substituting one letter for another
Reversing correct order of letters in a word
Phonetic Spelling
Using sound awareness to guess combinations of letters
Applying a rule to all similar words, one applying rule to one word
Salient Sounds
Writing only the key sounds.