The developmental trajectory of contrast markers in children’s writing across four grade levels

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Barbaros E., Akbaş E.

LINGUA, vol.279, pp.1-16, 2022 (SSCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 279
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.lingua.2022.103427
  • Journal Name: LINGUA
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI)
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-16
  • Erciyes University Affiliated: Yes


The use of contrast markers (CMs), one important type of connective creating semantic links both within and beyond the sentence (Robertson, 1968), is an explicit way of text cohesion (Halliday & Hasan, 1976) which develops gradually in childhood as logical reasoning advances (Piaget, 1928). This paper investigates the developmental trajectory of CMs in English across four grade levels to understand a particular aspect of language acquisition, that is ‘expressing various types of contrast’. We aim to reveal how frequently and diversely CMs are employed by children and report the differences between the overall use and that of the most frequent CMs across grade levels and types of texts. Through a frequency-based quantitative approach and contextual analyses, a set of 65 CMs constructed drawing on several existing taxonomies were searched in the Growth in Grammar (GiG) Corpus (Durrant & Brenchley, 2018), a corpus of school writing produced by children at schools in England from Year 2 to Year 11. The results show that the variety and the number of CMs increase across grade levels signalling a significant change as they get older. We also found that the frequencies of CMs differed significantly both across grade levels and genres of writing (literary vs. non-literary texts) in the corpus. In addition, it is noteworthy to evidence that the frequency of overall use of CMs significantly varied between Y2-Y6; Y6-Y9 and Y6-Y11, suggesting that Y6 (ages 10-11) stands in the middle of the V-shaped developmental curve. The findings also indicated that there are significant differences in the most frequent CMs (i.e., but, yet, and although) for each grade level.