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Sentential Devices for Conveying Givenness and Newness: A Cross-Cultural Developmental Study

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journal contribution
posted on 01.10.1978, 00:00 by Brian Macwhinney, Elizabeth Bates
Child and adult speakers of English, Hungarian, and Italian described nine triplets of pictures whose elements varied along the pragmatic dimension of givenness vs newness. In the first picture of each series, all elements were new. In the second and third pictures, one element increased in newness and the remaining elements increased in givenness. The devices analysed were ellipsis, pronominalization, emphatic stress, the indefinite article, the definite article, and initialization. The results indicated (a) marked differences between the languages, (b) early learning of the functions of the devices, (c) some changes with age, (d) a relation between changes in givenness and newness and use of each of the devices, and (e) baseline effects in the use of the devices.