Conversational and Narrative Speaking in Adolescents: Examining the Use of Complex Syntax Purpose Few tools are available to examine the narrative speaking ability of adolescents. Hence, the authors designed a new narrative task and sought to determine whether it would elicit a higher level of syntactic complexity than a conversational task in adolescents with typical language development. Method Forty adolescents (Mage ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2014
Conversational and Narrative Speaking in Adolescents: Examining the Use of Complex Syntax
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Marilyn A. Nippold
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Megan W. Frantz-Kaspar
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Paige M. Cramond
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Cecilia Kirk
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Christine Hayward-Mayhew
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Melanie MacKinnon
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Marilyn A. Nippold: nippold@uoregon.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Joanne Volden
    Associate Editor: Joanne Volden×
Article Information
Normal Language Processing / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2014
Conversational and Narrative Speaking in Adolescents: Examining the Use of Complex Syntax
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2014, Vol. 57, 876-886. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/13-0097)
History: Received April 15, 2013 , Revised June 19, 2013 , Accepted August 19, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2014, Vol. 57, 876-886. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/13-0097)
History: Received April 15, 2013; Revised June 19, 2013; Accepted August 19, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 4

Purpose Few tools are available to examine the narrative speaking ability of adolescents. Hence, the authors designed a new narrative task and sought to determine whether it would elicit a higher level of syntactic complexity than a conversational task in adolescents with typical language development.

Method Forty adolescents (Mage = 14;0 [years;months]; 20 boys and 20 girls) were individually interviewed. Each adolescent participated in a standard conversational task followed by a narrative task that involved listening to fables and retelling the stories. It was predicted that the narrative task would elicit a higher level of syntactic complexity than the conversational task because fables, although superficially simple stories, express rather sophisticated meanings.

Results The narrative task elicited greater syntactic complexity than the conversational task as measured by mean length of C-unit and clausal density. Additionally, the 2 syntactic measures, mean length of C-unit and clausal density, were closely associated on both tasks.

Conclusion Fables can elicit a high level of syntactic complexity in adolescents with typical language development. Future studies are needed to build a normative database using fables.

Acknowledgments
The authors express gratitude to the adolescents who participated in the study; to their parents or guardians who granted them permission to participate; and to the administrators, principals, teachers, and librarians who assisted in scheduling the individual testing sessions.
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