Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-6732
  • E-ISSN: 1570-6001
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Starting from a usage-based perspective of language acquisition, the present study investigates the occurrence of connectives in BasiLex, an 11.5 million word corpus of texts Dutch children encounter during the primary school years (grades 1–6). Specifically, we investigate how connective frequencies change across grades, how these changes reflect the theorized orders of connective acquisition in the work of Bloom et al. (1980) and Evers-Vermeul & Sanders (2009), and we make a comparison with the frequencies of connectives in the adult written language corpus Celex. Briefly summarized, our findings show that the numbers of connectives increase sharply after grade 1 and then more steadily across grades 2 to 6; we see some reflection of the connective acquisition theory of Evers-Vermeul & Sanders in the connective frequencies in texts offered to children; and we see some remarkable similarities between connective frequencies in the adult corpus Celex as compared to connective frequencies in grade 1 and grade 6 texts in BasiLex. Our findings suggest that the written input offered to children harmonizes with theoretical approaches that emphasize the incremental growth of word knowledge in children as a function of exposure.


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