Negatives, descriptions of what did not occur or what was not present, have been a neglected aspect of narratives. As narrators, children use negatives for a variety of semantic and pragmatic functions. A taxonomy of eight distinct types of negation was developed and used to analyze three data sets: a corpus of personal narratives from working-class children (age 4 to 9 years); a corpus of narratives elicited via a wordless picture book from a longitudinal sample of working- and middle-class children (age 6 to 8 years); and another corpus of picture book narratives elicited from a cross-sectional sample of children age 3 to 9 years, and adults. In children's personal narratives, negatives that referred to actions that did not occur were cited more frequently than any other type of negation. In all three data sets, younger children used negatives more frequently than did older children. Finally, negatives appeared far more frequently in personal narratives than in picture book elicited narratives. Findings are related to cognitive development and differences in narrative genres.
Ely, Richard; MacGibbon, Ann; and McCabe, Allyssa
"She Don't Care: Negatives in Children's Narratives,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 46
, Article 5.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol46/iss3/5