posted by Emily
I was on here the other day asking about how I should write up an analysis of a conversation with a four-year-old boy, and I was hoping I could have some help with the grammatical aspect of the paper? Would you mind if I post my analysis here and you read through to see if I had proper grammar? I don't have the funds to pay for Grammarly or any other grammar-checker, so if I may, I would greatly appreciate it!
we can try it, formatting is difficult here.
https://www.grammarly.com/ is a free grammar checker, I recommend it.
Unfortunately, Grammarly only gives you help with little things, so if there was a major problem, it won't tell me what it is until I pay an arm and a leg.
I do appreciate your help, this is actually my college class' final! I had to transcribe a five-minute video, down to the second, and then analyze the entire thing. There are a few things that I am still tweaking and thinking about adding on, but for now, whatever assistance you can provide, I will most definitely take it!
This is the Language Analysis of the sampling session with four-year-old Alex.
Throughout the session, Alex had quite a few phonological errors, seventeen, to be exact; however, these errors can be explained. Almost all of the errors are age related, but some of them are due to being raised and living in the south, meaning he has a southern accent and dialect. While a southern accent is not considered a language, I can draw a comparison between the way Alex pronounces words like “gonna” and “lookin’”, lexicalized reductions of "going to" and “looking”, to AAVE, African American Vernacular English. With AAVE speakers, they pronounce quite a few English words in the same way as a person with a southern accent would. As I stated before, the words “gonna” and “lookin’” are pronounced similarly. Continuing on with the sampling, Alex unknowingly uses substitution as he digs for worms, every time he comes across one, he shouts “Anodder one!” (00:23) He does this again when he brings us over and shows us the pile of worms he has gathered, introducing them as “Brudders.” (00:50) In these two instances, Alex is substituting the letters “th” in the words “another” and “brother”, with the letter “d”. When it comes to fricatives, consonants that are made when you squeeze air through a small hole or gap in your mouth, Alex has absolutely no problem with using them. In fact, right off the bat at (00:00 – 00:03), he says “for”. Throughout the entire sampling session, he uses fricatives like: fireman, found, three, still, etc. It is my observation, after analyzing the phonological aspect of this sampling, Alex appears to be on target with the systematic organizations of sound in language, which is typically mastered by the age of four.
Whilst attempting to count the morphemes to try and come up with an accurate Mean Length of Utterance (MLU) I discovered that the morphological rules do not necessarily fit neatly within the complexities of the conversation of a child. For example, when it came to counting the morphemes, I came across the dilemma of how to count such words as ‘gonna’, ‘imma’, and ‘where’da’. As an adult, we have learned that these words are actually two and three words combined into a slang word of one, but without schooling, small children have yet to acquire this knowledge and have learned these words as a single word. This is especially true in Alex’s environment of the deep southern mountains. This left me confused as to how to count them as morphemes. ‘Where’da’ could be counted as one from Alex’s perspective, or three from an educated adult (where did you.) For the sake of this analysis, I have counted such words as one morpheme.
The total number of morphemes per one-hundred utterances came to three-hundred-and-twenty-six. Therefore, based upon Brown’s Morphemes in Order of Acquisition by the age of four (Brown. 1973, p.274) when divided by one-hundred, Alex’s MLU score came to 3.26, slightly less than what I had anticipated, being the score typically mimics the age of the child. This score places Alex on Brown’s Staging Chart into the Stage IV category. Upon comparing the MLU to Brown’s 14 Morphemes, it appears to be rather accurate. (I will be attaching my breakdown and commentary on how Alex matched up to Brown’s list of 14 morphemes.)
Overall, I found this study to be quite interesting and intriguing. I do believe it may serve well as part of a diagnostic tool to determine whether or not a child may be experiencing some type of speech or learning problem, however, by itself I question the accuracy of using this as a measurement of a child’s language abilities. I have seen Alex interact with other children his own age and quite often he blows my mind with the things he can come up with and how he expresses himself verbally. While I would not probably categorize Alex as being ‘above average’ for his age, I do believe he fairs better than three-years and three-months which is the top age level for Stage IV.
For the most part, during the sampling session, Alex formulates well structured sentences. They are all typically short sentences, consisting of approximately anywhere between five to seven words per sentence. While he may not pronunciate and/or enunciate all of the words correctly, you can still understand what he is trying to say, very easily. The first half of one sentence in the sampling holds the only outlier, in which you can still infer what he is saying and what he means, but it was poorly articulated in comparison to the rest of the session. Alex’s use of the word “digs” is a very similar colloquialism used by Australians when they refer to the word “days”. It common for them to refer to “days” as “sleeps”. For example, it is not uncommon to hear one declare, “There are five more sleeps until Christmas.” Alex said, “I only need a little bit digs, then I will find lotsa worms!” (02:09) Presumably, he was referring to the number of times he would have to push the shovel into the ground.
In spite of the low scoring on the MLU, Alex seems to have a typical vocabulary for a four-year-old child. He easily strings along sentences of up to ten to fourteen words and has a grasp of present and past tense. He is great at asking questions as well as giving detailed information about things which interest him. Alex articulates words which go on inside of his brain, such as ‘remember’ and ‘don’t know’. He can explain concepts such as ‘up’, ‘down’, ‘top’, ‘bottom’, ‘across’, and ‘between’. He clearly displayed his ability to convey emotion as he cautioned the worms to beware of the dog, quickly transitioning to express his imagination when he decided to tell the worms the dog was instead a bear!
Coming from an area which has a very strong southern heritage and where the dialect is very thick and often hard for someone not from the area to understand, it was difficult analyzing Alex. The people Alex is often surrounded by are not compelled to adhere to any type of grammatical rules. It is very common for grammar to be used improperly. Therefore, it is difficult for Alex to even know what proper grammar sounds like.
I would suggest Alex is in the stage of processing and delivering functional structures verses grammatical structure. It is quite apparent that he is beyond the holophrastic and telegraphic stages, as the vast majority of the of the sampling shows he speaks with far more than five words per sentence. His lexical and syntactic knowledge is at the stage of growing leaps and bounds as he progresses with long and detailed sentences, even stories, which bubble up from his wild imagination. Due his lack of being in a home where grammar is of importance, I would say Alex is somewhere between the end of the short-sentence stage where there is the onset of grammatical structure (using his pronouns, prepositions and auxiliaries, etc..) and the beginning of the complete-sentence stage where there is the basic onset of relative clauses and adverbial clauses. The ‘Brown’s 14’ helped me to put Alex’s development into better perspective.
I anticipate once Alex begins to attend school, he will experience initial difficulty trying to transition from slang to proper grammar. His little accent is so thick, it is easy for one to judge his intelligence by his dialect and lack of grammatical structure, but the truth is, Alex is a very bright boy and I think he will do well once he is taught proper grammar and is positively encouraged to do well in school.
I see almost no problems with this. I do think you need to clarify this sentence: "The total number of morphemes per one-hundred utterances came to three-hundred-and-twenty-six." I'm sure you are accurate in what that says, but, as a reader, I question how there can be over 300 morphemes in only 100 utterances. Define your terms.
You also, in typing, elided a verb in one sentence. I'll let you look for it.
Thank you so much for your feedback! I will clarify and add the terms, and also find the verb.
Again, thank you, I know that this was a lot and time-consuming!
I would not trust online extensions as Grammarly much. The main reason is that it really notices minor mistakes but it cannot underline the structure or that you go off-topic. The best would be to go to the professional writing service as Prime Writings. They will help you on time and analyze the work to the depth.