Article published in:Developmental aspects of written language
Edited by Sofía A. Vernon Carter and Mónica Alvarado
[Written Language & Literacy 13:2] 2010
► pp. 260–273
Elementary school children’s decisions about paragraph organization
The main purpose of the present paper is to explore children’s abilities to introduce punctuation in Spanish texts. In this context, sixty Mexican elementary school children (ages 8–11) were asked to edit an expository text. The children’s written responses were analyzed from a pragmatic perspective following Nunberg (1990) and Figueras (2001). The result of this exercise led to some hypotheses on the relation between the discursive connectors and punctuation, and also on the semantic criteria that lead children to delimit certain textual units. From the way the children delimited units we observed a tendency to progress from identifying text sentences to defining them with punctuation in expository written discourse. Children differentiated in their use of punctuation, using commas for serial units and upper cases and full stops for text sentences beginning with explicit subjects. Therefore, we follow that explicit subjects might be a key starting point in the development of those criteria that help to differentiate the structures of text sentences and serial units, at least when revising someone else’s text.
Keywords: written language acquisition, spelling conventions, text organization, punctuation
Published online: 30 July 2010