Dialect-Neutral Indices of Narrative Cohesion and Evaluation Purpose This study compared the development of essential elements of narrative skill in children from African American English (AAE)- and general American English (GAE)-speaking communities using an innovative elicitation and evaluation protocol consisting of four key indices of narrative language: (a) reference contrasting, (b) temporal expressions, (c) mental state descriptions, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2012
Dialect-Neutral Indices of Narrative Cohesion and Evaluation
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Frances A. Burns
    University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Peter A. de Villiers
    Smith College, Northampton, MA
  • Barbara Z. Pearson
    University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Tempii B. Champion
    Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY
  • Correspondence to Frances A. Burns: fburns@comdis.umass.edu
  • Editor: Marilyn Nippold
    Editor: Marilyn Nippold×
  • Associate Editor: Amy Weiss
    Associate Editor: Amy Weiss×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2012
Dialect-Neutral Indices of Narrative Cohesion and Evaluation
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2012, Vol. 43, 132-152. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2011/10-0101)
History: Received November 17, 2010 , Revised January 24, 2011 , Accepted August 2, 2011
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2012, Vol. 43, 132-152. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2011/10-0101)
History: Received November 17, 2010; Revised January 24, 2011; Accepted August 2, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 8

Purpose This study compared the development of essential elements of narrative skill in children from African American English (AAE)- and general American English (GAE)-speaking communities using an innovative elicitation and evaluation protocol consisting of four key indices of narrative language: (a) reference contrasting, (b) temporal expressions, (c) mental state descriptions, and (d) understanding of behavior based on false belief.

Method Participants were 291 AAE speakers and 238 GAE speakers, 4 to 9 years of age. Approximately one-third of both dialect groups were identified as having language impairments. Children generated 2 stories based on short picture sequences. Their stories were coded for the 4 key indices of narrative language. Analyses of variance were performed with subsets of the measures and a composite index with all measures combined as outcomes; and with age, dialect group, and clinical status as predictors.

Results Age and clinical status had statistically significant effects on the subset measures and the composite score. Variation between AAE and GAE dialect was not a significant factor.

Conclusion By focusing on dialect-neutral elements of narratives—creating links across sentences and providing mental state interpretations—this study adds to our knowledge of development and impairment in narrative production among both AAE- and GAE-background children.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The research in this paper was funded in part by NIH Contract #N01-DC8-2104 (Harry Seymour, PI) to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Smith College, and The Psychological Corporation.
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