Hur ser barns yttranden ut? : Yttrandetyper, bisatser och yttrandelängd hos svenska 3- och 4-åringar
Children’s utterances have been studied in different languages; however, only a few studies refer to Swedish. The aim of the present study is to describe utterance types, subordinate clauses and utterance length for a group of three and four year old Swedish children without known functional impairments.
The study included 29 children, 17 girls and 12 boys, in a larger city in the south-east of Sweden. The children, all native Swedish speakers, were aged 3;0 to 4;11. Sound recordings were made during a playing session with one of the authors in the children’s day care centers.The utterances were divided into the categories elliptical responses, incomplete and partly unintelligible utterances, imitative utterances and independent utterances. Mean Length of Utterance (MLU) was calculated for the 50 first independent utterances. Subordinate clauses were classified and counted and placement of the sentence adverb was studied.
Elliptical responses were frequently used. Incomplete or partly unintelligible utterances were relatively common, but imitative utterances were rare. Subordinate clauses were used by 23 of the 29 children. Relative subordinate clauses were the most common type, and were used across the age range. Most of the children placed the sentence adverbial correctly. The children had utterances ranging from one to 23 words, and the most common utterance length was four words. The MLU ranged from 2.36 to 7.04. Frequent use of subordinate clauses resulted in a higher MLU. The older children used subordinate clauses more frequently and had a lower percentage of elliptical responses. The MLU had a tendency to increase with age.
The great variety in the results shown in the present study, can be explained by the fact that children aged three and four are in a process of developing their language. Children with a more frequent use of subordinate clauses had higher MLU values, suggesting a relation between language complexity and MLU. The results show that MLU is a reliable measure of children’s language level in the ages three and four years.
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