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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

OUP research reveals children's imaginative language use

Articles about creativity frequently emphasize that children are not necessarily more creative than adults, that adults also can be as creative as children. The problem is that as children grow into adults, their creativity is stifled by external restrictions placed on how they think, feel and act. 

This article highlights new research by the Oxford University Press:
Innovative use of language, a firm grasp of technology, and a thirst for unusual words are just some of the findings revealed about how children use language ....
The report provides information on "children's patterns in language, grammatical structures, and vocabulary use."

I don't think this report contradicts the point made in the first paragraph. Instead, I think it mostly reflects factors that influence children as they're experiencing their new environment and learning to talk and write about it. 

The article reports:
The results show that children are extremely inventive in their storytelling and language use, with many stories focusing on genetic experiments, espionage, and futuristic gadgets. ...
Technology was also a theme in many stories. The terms 'google' and 'app' occur many times: 'googling' is a way to follow clues in a mystery; and 'apps' can be downloaded for use as a prop, avatar, or weapon.
I was pleased to read that the research played down concerns that increased use of "txtspk" will ruin the vocabulary of children. Instead:
[Y]oungsters demonstrated that they know when it is not appropriate, only including it in their stories when transcribing an imagined text message.
Not surprisingly, the report found that misuse of the apostrophe was a common problem among children, and that children made extensive use (overuse, perhaps) of the exclamation mark. Why isn't that surprising? Because those statements could also be made about adults!

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