The development of narrative skills and the evaluative use of modal verbs in the narratives of young non-native speakers of English

Statement of Responsibility:
Mason, Ruth Margaret
Part Of Series:
International Journal of Applied Linguistics 4(1)
pages 79-99
This study investigates second-language narrative development by focusing on the evaluative use of modal verbs. The data consist of 45 retellings of six model stories by eight Panjabi-speaking subjects aged 5:7 to 7:9. These were analysed using a modified version of Labov's high-point analysis, taking a somewhat broader view of evaluation than that of Labov (1972). Evidence is given for the development of evaluative syntax with age and/or increasing language experience and proficiency and also for inherent individual variability. Competent narrators produce more instances of modal verbs and a higher mean ratio of modals per clause than the less competent: they also use the devices more effectively to represent punctual events as on-going processes to be experienced by the hearer as though they were occurring at the moment of telling.
Publication Status:
United Kingdom
Subject Languages:
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Work Type:
Narrative discourse
Modality (semantic)
Language acquisition
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