The age of the narrator and the qualities of the narrative constructed

Mehmet Ozcan


This study is designed to investigate the qualitative features of the stories produced by children, adults and older people with a special focus on sentence structures, the emergence of story units, Mean Length of Utterance (henceforward MLU) and evaluative language. Participants are 60 children from 3 to 5-year-olds, 60 adults from 20 to 30-year-olds and 60 older people who are 60 and over. Data were collected by using Mercer Meyer’s (1969) textless picture book, Frog, where are you?, which depicts the events that take place while a boy and a dog are in search of a missing frog in countryside.

Results showed that there are significant differences in the qualitative features of the sentence structure produced by children and other two groups in the usage of connectives. Although adults and the older participants show similar features in the emergence and quality of story units as they are defined by Labov and Waletzky (1967), the narratives produced by children render significant differences both quantitatively and qualitatively. Regarding MLU, as they are in other narrative components, children are different from the other two groups. The mean length of sentences in adults’ stories is longer than in those of children and olds and the sentences produced by adults are more complex than those of both olds and children. All of the three groups use evaluative language in their narratives. However, the amount and quality of the evaluative language differs from the evaluative utterances adults and older participants produce.


narrative; narrator’s age; narrative form; sentence structure; story units; MLU; evaluative language

Full Text:



Aarssen, Jeroen. (1996). Relating events in two languages: Acquisition of cohesive devices by Turkish-Dutch bilingual children at school age. Tilburg: Tilburg University Press.

Akıncı, M. A. (1999). Developpement de la temporalite chez des enfants monolingues et bilingues. BCILL: Temps et discours, 237- 255.

Aksu-Koç, A. (1988). Simultaneity in children’s narratives: the development of cohesion in discourse. Studies in Turkish Linguistics. 55-78. Ankara: METU.

Aksu-Koç, A. & von Stutterheim, C. (1994). Temporal relations in narrative: Simultaneity. In: Berman, R. A. & Slobin, D. I. Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Press.

Bauer, J. J. & McAdams, D. P. (2004). Personal growth in adults’ stories of life transition. Journal of personality. 72(3), 573-602.

Berman, R. A. & Slobin, D. I. (1994). Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Press.

Drijboom, E., Groen, M. A. & Verhoeven, L. (2016). Children’s use of evaluative devices in spoken and written narratives. Journal of Child Language Acquisition. June, 02, 1-28, Doi: 10.S0305000916000234.

Fang, Z. (2001). The development of schooled narrative competence among second graders. Reading psychology. 22, 205-223.

Kornfilt, J. (1997). Turkish. London and New York: Routledge.

Labov, W. (1972). Language in the inner city: studies in the Black English vernacular. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

McAdams, D. P. (2008). Personal narratives and the life story. In Oliver P. John, Richard W. Robins and Lawrence A. Pervin. (Eds.)Handbook of personality: Theory and research. Third Edition. New York:The Guilford Press.

Nicolopoulou, A. (1996). Narrative development in social context. In D. Slobin, J. Gerhardt, J. Guo, & A. Kyratzis (Eds.), Social Interaction, Social Context, and Language: Essays in Honor of Susan Ervin-Tripp (pp. 369-390). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Noh, S. R. & Stine-Morrow, E. A. (2009). Age differences in tracking characters during narrative comprehension. Memory & Cognition.37(6), 769-778.

Özcan, M. (2011). Yabancı dil öğretiminde öykü kullanımı. e-Journal of New World Sciences Academy. 6(3), 2133-2147.

Peterson, C., & Dodsworth, P. (1991). A longitudinal analysis of young children's cohesion and noun specification in narratives. Journal of Child Language, 18, 397-415.

Reese, E., Yan, C., Jack, F. & Hayne, H. (2010). Emerging Identities: Narrative and Self from Early Childhood to Early Adolescence. In K. McLean & M. Pasupathi (Eds.), Narrative development in adolescence. NY: Springer. DOI 10.1007/978-0-387-89825-4_2.

Roberts, K. P., Brubacher, S. P., Drohan-Jennings, D., Glisic, U., Powell, M. B. & Friedman, W. J. ( 2015) Developmental differences in the ability to provide temporal information about repeated events 29 ( 3) , 407. DOI: 10.1002/acp.3118.

Rossiter, M. (1999). A narrative approach to development:Implications for adult education. Adult education quarterly. 50(1), 56-71.

Sah, W. (2013). The Development of Coherence in Narratives: Causal Relations. 27th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information, and Computation. pp.173-180.

Santos, M. E., Lynce, S., Carvalho, S., Cacela, M. and Mineiro, A. (2015). Mean length of utterance-words in children with typical language development aged 4 to 5 years.Revista CEFAC. 17(4), 1143-1151.

Uchikoshi, Y. (2005). Narrative Development in Bilingual Kindergarteners: Can Arthur Help? Developmental psychology. 41(3), 464-478.

Data publikacji: 2017-07-04 09:02:35
Data złożenia artykułu: 2017-02-16 08:58:38


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Mehmet OZCAN

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.