Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type



The aim of this study was to determine if dialect status has an effect on the frequency at which kindergarteners produce nonmainstream English markings for regular third person, IS and ARE, and regular past tense when producing oral narratives. Specifically, I wished to determine if child speakers of African American English (AAE) and child speakers of Southern White English (SWE) mark these structures with nonmainstream English forms at different rates. The narrative data came from language samples that had been previously collected from twenty kindergarten speakers of AAE and twenty kindergarten speakers of SWE. All of the children were recruited from various primary schools in rural Louisiana, and their dialect status was confirmed with a listener judgment task. The narratives were elicited by asking the children to produce narratives based on three to four pictures. Their narratives were then transcribed and coded. Once the narratives were transcribed, the target grammar structures were coded as mainstream overt, nonmainstream overt, or nonmainstream zero. The rate of nonmainstream marking was calculated by dividing each child’s number of nonmainstream overt and nonmainstream zero markings by the total number of opportunities that each child had to produce the structures. For all three grammar structures, the AAE-speaking children producing higher rates of nonmainstream marking than their SWE-speaking peers. Additionally, it was found that both groups were more likely to produce nonmainstream forms with the auxiliary than copular BE form. These findings suggest that the rate of nonmainstream marking in narratives differs based on a child’s dialect status in ways that are consistent with what has been documented in studies of conversational language samples. However, by comparing the current results to a previous study of the grammatical structures produced in conversation, it was found that narratives were more likely to elicit past tense structures while conversations were more likely to elicit present tense structures.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Gibson, Todd