Acquisition of referentiality in elicited narratives of Estonian-speaking children
This study addresses the acquisition of referential expressions in pre-schoolers' narratives in Estonian. A total of sixteen 6- to 7-year-old typically developing monolingual Estonian children were tested using the story "Baby Goat" from the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (MAIN) (Gagarina, Natalia, Klop, Daleen, Kunnari, Sari, Tantele, Koula, Välimaa, Taina, Balciuniene, Ingrida, Bohnacker, Ute and Walters, Joel. 2012. "MAIN: Multilingual Assessment Instrument for
... ZAS Papers in Linguistics 56, 1–140, Gagarina, Natalia, Klop, Daleen, Kunnari, Saru, Tantele, Koula, Välimaa, Taina, Bohnacker, Ute and Walters, Joel. 2019. "MAIN: Multilingual assessment instrument for narratives – Revised." ZAS Papers in Linguistics 63). The objective was to understand how children introduce a new referent and how they maintain referents in their storytelling, and what correlation could be observed between the length of the story and the average length of the reference chain. Qualitative analyses revealed that children generally introduced new referents using bare nouns; they also generally used bare nouns for further reference. NPs consisting of a noun and a determiner were more frequently used for main characters in the story, while bare nouns were preferred for other characters. The influence of the typological character of Estonian can be observed in the use of zero references and pragmatically driven word order in children's utterances. In general, the length but not the complexity of the story was correlated with the average number of reference units in a chain.