Peer conflict explanations in children, adolescents, and adults: Examining the development of complex syntax

  • Nippold M
  • Mansfield T
  • Billow J
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PURPOSE: Expository discourse, the use of language to convey information, requires facility with complex syntax. Although expository discourse is often employed in school and work settings, little is known about its development in children, adolescents, and adults. Hence, it is difficult to evaluate this genre in students who have language disorders. This study examined syntactic complexity in expository discourse in an effort to begin to establish a normative database. METHOD: Speakers with typical development whose mean ages were 11, 17, and 25 years old (n=60) participated in a peer conflict resolution (PCR) task designed to elicit expository discourse. The results were compared with an additional measure of expository discourse, the favorite game or sport (FGS) task, reported in a previous study that included these same participants (M. A. Nippold, L. J. Hesketh, J. K. Duthie, & T. C. Mansfield, 2005). RESULTS: The PCR task elicited expository discourse from speakers in all 3 groups. Older speakers packed more information into their utterances than did younger ones, and the PCR task elicited greater syntactic complexity than did the FGS task. CONCLUSIONS: The PCR task is potentially a useful tool for examining expository discourse. Research is needed to expand the database and administer the task to clinical groups.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Expository discourse
  • Later language development
  • Typical development

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  • Marilyn A. Nippold

  • Tracy C. Mansfield

  • Jesse L. Billow

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