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Written Language & Literacy

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ISSN 1387-6732
E-ISSN 1570-6001


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  • Cross-linguistic perspectives on the development of text-production abilities: Speech and writing
    • Authors: Ruth Berman, and Ludo Verhoeven
    • Source: Written Language & Literacy, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2002, pages: 1 –43
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    • The studies reported in this volume of WL&L (5: 1–2, 2002) all derive from a joint project entitled “Developing literacy in different contexts and in different languages”, funded by the Spencer Foundation, Chicago. The study encompasses seven languages — Dutch, English, French, Hebrew, Icelandic, Spanish, and Swedish — for which data were collected in Europe, Israel, and the US by graduate research assistants in education, linguistics, and psychology, under the supervision of a project director in each country — each of whom is listed as a first or “lead” author in the articles which follow the introduction to this collection.
  • Passive voice constructions in written texts: A cross-linguistic developmental study
    • Authors: Harriet Jisa, Judy Reilly, Ludo Verhoeven, Elisheva Baruch, and Elisa Rosado
    • Source: Written Language & Literacy, Volume 5, Issue 2, 2002, pages: 163 –181
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    • The distribution of passive constructions is examined in written texts produced by native speakers of five Languages (Dutch, English, French, Hebrew, and Spanish), from four Age groups (aged 9–10, 12–13, 15–16 years, and adults). These languages contrast in the variety of structures available to promote a patient and to downgrade an agent in event encoding. The results show significant effects of Language and Age. When a language has productive alternative rhetorical options for the two functions, it relies less on passive constructions. Across all five languages, passives increase with Age. However, even our youngest subjects show a language-specific rhetorical bias.
  • Orthographic input and phonological representations in learners of Chinese as a foreign language
    • Author: Benedetta Bassetti
    • Source: Written Language & Literacy, Volume 9, Issue 1, 2006, pages: 95 –114
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    • This paper provides evidence that the second language orthographic input affects the mental representations of L2 phonology in instructed beginner L2 learners. Previous research has shown that orthographic representations affect monolinguals’ performance in phonological awareness tasks; in instructed L2 learners such representations could also affect pronunciation. This study looked at the phonological representations of Chinese rimes in beginner learners of Chinese as a foreign language, using a phoneme counting task and a phoneme segmentation task. Results show that learners do not count or segment the main vowel in those syllables where it is not represented in the pinyin (romanisation) orthographic representations. It appears that the pinyin orthographic input is reinterpreted according to L1 phonology–orthography correspondences, and interacts with the phonological input in shaping the phonological representations of Chinese syllables in beginner learners. This explains previous findings that learners of Chinese do not pronounce the main vowel in these syllables.
  • Subject NP patterning in the development of text production: Speech and writing
    • Authors: Dorit Ravid, Janet G. van Hell, Elisa Rosado, and Anita Zamora
    • Source: Written Language & Literacy, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2002, pages: 69 –93
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    • This paper examines how choice of subject NP types and structures changes in the development of text construction, and the extent of variation in the developmental patterns which are produced in speech and in writing. The population for this study consisted of 80 participants — 40 grade-school children and 40 university-level adults — with 20 participants in each of four languages: Dutch, Hebrew, English, and Spanish. The database for each language-specific analysis consisted of 40 grade-school texts and 40 adult texts. In each group, half were spoken texts and half written, half were narratives and half expository texts: altogether 320 texts. All subject NP slots in each text were counted and classified by category of realization (zero, pronoun, or lexical), by pronoun type (personal vs. impersonal), and by lexical complexity (terminal NPs governing a single lexical noun vs. non-terminal NPs governing more than one lexical noun). In general, the written expositions of adults are the preferred site for lexical subjects and for non-terminal subjects. Among both children and adults, narratives contain more personal subject pronouns, and expository texts contain more impersonal pronouns. Several cross-linguistic differences emerged (mainly between Spanish and the other three languages), reflecting differences in the syntactic, inflectional, and pronominal patternings of the target languages.
  • Toward a cross-linguistic comparison of lexical quanta in speech and writing
    • Authors: Sven Strömqvist, Victoria Johansson, Sarah Kriz, Hrafnhildur Ragnarsdóttir, Ravid Aisenman, and Dorit Ravid
    • Source: Written Language & Literacy, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2002, pages: 45 –67
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    • The present study presents contrastive analyses of task-oriented spoken and written discourse in terms of lexical diversity, lexical density, and word length. In an age-matched within-language comparison (Swedish), written discourse consistently scored higher on these measures. It is suggested that the same type of differences will hold for any language, because of the difference between speech and writing in processing constraints. The absolute scores, however, can vary substantially for reasons of language typology. An extended, cross-linguistic analysis (English, Hebrew, Icelandic, Swedish), focusing on word length, was made to substantiate that claim. Further, cross-age-group comparisons of lexical quanta indicated a dynamic interaction between speech and writing in development. Spoken discourse eventually comes to “learn” from the development of writing.
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