The development of complex nominals in expert and non-expert writing
A comparative study
This study examines the distribution of complex nominal constructions in Hebrew texts produced by non-expert schoolage and adult writers, compared with their distribution in expert-written encyclopedic texts. One aim of the paper was to determine young writers’ ability to distinguish text types through their usage of genre-appropriate morpho-syntactic forms. Another aim was to investigate the distribution of these constructions in expert school-related texts so as to confirm or refute the hypothesis of “resonance” between input and output texts. The study population consisted of native Hebrew-speaking gradeschoolers, adolescents and adults who each produced 2 written texts, one biographical, one expository. The same text types were analyzed in three encyclopedias, targeted for use in each of the age groups under discussion. Our analysis indicates that non-expert writers’ textual output undergoes marked developmental changes during later childhood and adolescence, but no developmental resonance was found in expert texts, which constitute part of the input that novice and non-expert writers are exposed to. Implications for the nature of the mental lexicon and its relationship with grammar are discussed.
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