Edited by Merijn Beeksma and Martin Neef
[Written Language & Literacy 21:1] 2018
The development of adverbial clause functions in Hebrew narrative and expository writing across adolescence
Interclausal subordination, serving various functions in written discourse, has been studied mostly from a quantitative perspective in later language development. The current study applied a discourse-functional approach to a quantitative and qualitative examination of subordinate Adverbial Clauses (ACs) in Hebrew writing development.
Analysis targeted narrative and expository texts, written by Hebrew speaker-writers in grades 4, 7, 11, and university students. Adverbial clauses were counted, and classified according to function. In narratives, they delineated either plotline events, surrounding descriptions, or subjective interpretations. Expository ACs served to enlarge on the current argument, anchor new arguments in previous discourse, or move on, initiating a new topic.
Narrative ACs had similar prevalence across development, but shifted functionally, favoring interpretive roles in older writers. Expository ACs retained their enlarging-on and anchoring functions, while decreasing in quantity, parallel to an increase in alternative, clause-internal devices. The study underscores the usefulness of a functionally-oriented perspective in revealing developmental changes in the syntax-discourse interface.