eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society cover
The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society


Full article in PDF format | doi:10.3176/esa59.03

Krista Kerge, Anne Uusen, Halliki Põlda, Helin Puksand


Development of syntactic parameters of teenage creative writing
Within the framework of literacy development (see e.g., Ravid & Tolchinsky 2002), 159 Estonian students from grades 5 (11-12 years old), 7 (13-14), 9 (15-16) and 11 (17-18 years) experimentally wrote an argumentative text on social values. The data was described statistically.
The lexical parameters of the writings started to grow rapidly after grade 7 but did not reach the level of adults (see Kerge et al. 2014). The same goes for parameters suitable for describing richer morphosyntax (more affixation and compounding), such as OVIX indexing unique tokens, or the percentage of long words; more complex syntax, such as formality index based on the importance of noun phrases; dominance of the nominal versus verbal style; growth in lexical density (here pointing to the decline of the amount of functional words) or clausal density. Moreover, those parameters do not develop equally. In grade 5, parameter values (all typical of oral or spontaneous texts) pointed to students writing down thoughts in the order they occur. Although standard deviations were relatively smaller in grade 7, there was no significant difference between grades 5 and 7, except in the proportion of the long words and somewhat in OVIX values.
After grade 7, all parameter values grow abruptly and significantly. The development continues in the upper secondary school age but reaches the adult level only in nominal style dominance (cf. Kerge, Pajupuu 2010). The developmental curve found here is very close to what is described by Alamargot et al. (2010), and especially by Nippold et al. (2005).


Alamargot jt 2010 = Denis Alamargot, Sylvie Plane, Eric Lambert, David Chesnet. Using eye and pen movements to trace the development of writing expertise. Case studies of a seventh, ninth and twelfth grader, graduate student, and professional writer. – Reading and Writing 23 (7),

Baratta, Alexander M. 2010. Nominalization development across an undergraduate academic degree program. – Journal of Pragmatics 42 (4), 1017–1036. .

Berman, Ruth, Ludo Verhoeven 2002. Developing text-production abilities across languages, genre and modality. – Written Languages and Literacy 5 (1), 1–43.

Bastos Figueiredo, Sandra Andrade de, Carlos Fernandes da Silva 2009. Cognitive differences in second language learners and the critical period effects. – L1–Educational Studies in Language and Literature 9 (4), 157–178.

Björnsson, Carl-Hugo 1969. Lix på Danska. Stockholm: Pedagogiskt centrum, Stockholms skolförvaltning.

Eesti keel 2011 = Õppekava. Põhikooli valdkonnaraamat. Eesti keel. Gümnaasiumi valdkonnaraamat. Eesti keel. Tallinn: REKK. > Abiks õpetajale (25.09.2013).

Epting jt 2013 = L. Kimberly Epting, Evan M. Gallena, Stephany A. Hicks, Elizabeth N. Palmer, Traci Weisberg. Read and think before you write: prewriting time and level of print exposure as factors in writing and revisjon. – Journal of Writing Research 4 (3), 239–259.

Ericsson jt 1993 = K. Anders Ericsson, Ralf Th. Krampe, Clemens Tesch-Römer. The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. – Psychological Review 100, 363–406. .

Funke jt 2013 = Reinold Funke, Regina Wieland, Stephanie Schönenberg, Florian Melzer. Exploring syntactic structures in first-language education: effects on literacy-related achievements. – L1–Educational Studies in Language and Literature 13, 1–24.

Halliday, Michael A. K. 1994. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. Second Edition. London: Edward Arnold.

Heylighen, Francis, Jean-Marc Dewaele 2002. Variation in the contextuality of language: an empirical measure. – Foundation of Science 7, 293–340.

Holliway, David. R., Deborah McCutchen 2004. Audience perspective in young writers’ composing and revising. – Revision Cognitive and Instructional Processes. Ed. Linda Allal, Lucile Chanquoy, Pierre Largy. (= Studies in Writing 13.) Boston, Dordrecht (Netherlands), New York: Kluwer, 87–101.

Hulstijn, Jan H. 2011. Language proficiency in native and nonnative speakers: an agenda for research and suggestions for second-language assessment. – Language Assessment Quarterly 8 (3), 229–249.

Hultman, Tor G., Margareta Westman 1977. Gymnasistsvenska. Lund: LiberLäromedel.

Kasik, Reet 1995. Õiguskeele lauseehitus. – Õiguskeel 1, 16–21.

Kerge, Krista 2002. Varieties of language and mother tongue teaching orientation. – Learning and Educational Media. Ed. Jaan Mikk, Veijo Meisalo, Hasso Kukemelk, Mike Horsley. (= The Third IARTEM Volume.) The International Association for Research on Textbooks and Educational Media, University of Tartu, 230–236.

Kerge, Krista 2010. Kirjažanrite keeleparameetrid mitme tekstiliigi taustal. – Emakeele Seltsi aastaraamat 55 (2009). Peatoim. Mati Erelt. Tallinn: Teaduste Akadeemia Kirjastus, 32–62.

Kerge, Krista, Hille Pajupuu 2010. Text-types in speech technology and language teaching. – Analizar datos > Describir variación / Analyzing data > Describing variation. Ed. Bueno Alonso, Jorge L., Dolores González Álvarez, Úrsula Kirsten Torrado, Ana E. Martínez Insua, etc. Vigo: Universidade de Vigo (Servizo de Publicacións), 380–390.

Kerge jt 2014 = Krista Kerge, Anne Uusen, Halliki Põlda. Teismeea loovkirjutiste sõnavara ja selle hindamine. – Eesti Rakenduslingvistika Ühingu aastaraamat 10 (2014). Toim. Helle Metslang, Margit Langemets, Maria-Maren Sepper. Tallinn: Eesti Rakenduslingvistika Ühing,157–175. .

Krogh, Ellen 2012. Writing in the literacy era: Scandinavian teachers’ notions of writing in mother tongue education. – L1–Educational Studies in Language and Literature 12 (special issue). A contribution to the inescapability of language. Ed. Iris Pereira, Brenton Doecke. 1–28.

Kuhn, Deanna 2006. Do cognitive changes accompany developments in the adolescent brain? – Perspectives on Psychological Science 1, 59–67.

Lee, Kang, Annette Karmiloff-Smith 1996. The development of external symbol systems: the child as annotator. – Perceptual and Cognitive Development. Ed. Rochel Gelman, Terry Kit-Fong Au. San Diego: Academic Press, 185–211. .

Malvern jt 2004 = David Malvern, Brian Richards, Ngoni Chipere, Pilar Durán. Lexical Diversity and Language Development. Quantification and Assessment. Hampshire, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mõttus jt 2011 = René Mõttus, Jüri Allik, Anu Realo. Intelligentsuse psühholoogia. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus.

Nippold, Marilyn A. 2004. Research on later language development. International perspectives. – Language Development Across Childhood and Adolescence. Psycholinguistic and Crosslinguistic Perspectives. Ed. Ruth A. Berman. (= Trends in Language Acquisition Research 3.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1–8. .

Nippold jt 2005 = Marilyn A. Nippold, Linda J. Hesketh, Jill K. Duthie, Tracy C. Mansfield. Conversational versus expository discourse: a study of syntactic development in children, adolescents, and adults. – Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 48, 1048–1064.

Nir, Bracha, Ruth A. Berman 2010. Complex syntax as a window on contrative rethorics. – Journal of Pragmatics 42 (3), 744–765.

Pajupuu jt 2010 = Hille Pajupuu, Krista Kerge, Lya Meister, Eva Liina Asu, Pilvi Alp. Naturalness of speaking and how to assess it. – Trames. Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences 59 (2), 120–140. .

Puksand, Helin 2010. Tekstid, mida loevad teismelised. Teismeliste lugemisharjumuste kasutamine koolis. – Tekstid ja taustad VI. Tekstiuurimus ja kool. Toim. Krista Kerge. Tallinn: Tallinna Ülikool, Emakeeleõpetuse Infokeskus, 20–35.

Puksand, Helin, Krista Kerge 2012. Õpiteksti analüüs kirjaoskuse omandamise kontekstis. – Emakeele Seltsi aastaraamat 57 (2011). Peatoim. Mati Erelt. Tallinn: Teaduste Akadeemia Kirjastus, 162–217. .

Ravid, Dorit, Liliana Tolchinsky 2002. Developing linguistic literacy. – Journal of Child Language 29 (2), 417–447.

Rijlaarsdam jt 2008 = Gert Rijlaarsdam, Martine Braaksma, Michel Couzijn, Tanja Janssen, Mariet Raedts, Elke van Steendam, Anne Toorenaar, Huub van den Bergh. Observation of peers in learning to write: practice and research. – Journal of Writing Research 1 (1), 53–83.

Rogoff, Barbara 2003. The Cultural Nature of Human Development. New York: Oxford University Press.

Scott, Cheryl M. 1988. Spoken and written syntax. – Later Language Development. Ages Nine trough Nineteen. Ed. Marilyn A. Nippold. Austin: Pro-Ed., 49–95.

Scott, Cheryl M., Sharon L. Stokes 1995. Measures of syntax in school-age children and adolescents. – Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools 26, 309–319.

Shaffer, David R., Katherine Kipp 2014. Developmental Psychology. Childhood and Adolescence. International Edition. Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Ure, Jean 1971. Lexical density and register differentiation. – Applications of Linguistics. Selected Papers of the Second International Congress of Applied Linguistics, Cambridge 1969. Ed. George Perren, John L. M. Trim. London: Cambridge University Press, 443–452.

Uusen, Anne 2006. Põhikooli I ja II astme õpilaste kirjutamisoskus. Doktoritöö. Tallinn: Tallinna Ülikooli kirjastus.

Vaiksoo, Jaanus 2008. Lugemise hind. – Sirp 11. I.

Vandenberg, Robert, Lee H. Swanson 2007. Which components of working memory are important in the writing process? – Reading and Writing 20, 721–752.

Verspoor jt 2012 = Marjolijn Verspoor, Xioyan Xu, Monika S. Schmid. A dynamic usage based perspective on L2 writing development. – Journal of Second Language Writing 21 (3), 239–263.

Whitmire, Kathleen A. 2000. Adolescence as developmental phase: a tutorial. – Topics in Language Disorder 20 (2), 1–14. .

Back to Issue