One of the well-known characterizations of children's early multiword utterances is that they resemble telegrams: they omit all items which are not essential for conveying the gist of the message. . . . Brown and Fraser, as well as Brown and Bellugi (1964), Ervin-Tripp (1966) and others pointed out that children's early multiword utterances tend to omit closed-class words such as articles, auxiliary verbs, copulas, prepositions, and conjunctions, compared to the sentences adults typically say in the same circumstances.

"Children's sentences tend to include mostly open-class or substantive words such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives. For example, Eve, one of the children observed by the Brown group, [url=][color=black]Referral Marketing Solution Video[/color][/url] said Chair broken when an adult would have said The chair is broken, or That horsie when an adult would have said That is a horsie. Despite the omissions, the sentences do not fall very far from their presumable adult models, as the order of the content-words making them up usually replicates the order in which the same words would have appeared in the fully constructed adult sentence.

"Given the selective omission of closed-class items, the first possibility to be checked was that maybe children only use open-class words in their early speech but not closed-class or 'function' words. Brown (1973) searched through available child corpora and found that this hypothesis was incorrect: he found many closed-class or function words in children's two-word and early multiword speech, among them more, no, off and the pronouns I, you, it and so forth. In fact, most of what Braine (1963) called pivot-open combinations were built on closed-class items as pivots.

"It appears that children are perfectly able to produce word-combinations with closed-class items--but they will not include them in utterances if they are not essential for conveying the gist of the message. The words 'missing' from the utterances may have important grammatical functions in the relevant adult sentences, but the words 'retained' are the substantive words carrying the semantic content of their respective phrases.


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