Clause packaging in writing and speech: A cross-linguistic developmental analysis

Ludo Verhoeven, Melina Aparici, Dalia Cahana-Amitay, Janet van Hell, Sarah Kriz, Anne Vigué-Simon

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58 Scopus citations


This article analyses clause packaging in the written narrative and expository texts in Dutch, English, French, Hebrew, and Spanish by grade-school children and adults. A clause package is defined as a text unit consisting of clauses linked by syntactic, thematic, and discursive criteria. Our study attempts to arrive at an understanding of cross-linguistic universals in the distribution of clause-package types as a function of Genre and Modality in both children and adults. To this end, we distinguish finite vs. nonfinite coordination, subordination, and relativization; we compare their distribution in the five languages; and we examine the semantics of the conjunctions occurring in narrative vs. expository texts. Results show that, in all languages, children tend to use more coardinate devices than adults, whereas adults use more adverbial, complement, and relative clauses. A clear interaction was found between Genre and type of clause packaging: For both children and adults, coordination was the preferred device in narrative, whereas subordination occurred more often in the expository texts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-161
Number of pages27
JournalWritten Language and Literacy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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