The clauses in a pear tree : syntactic complexity in the narratives of Mexican women of different educational levels
Mata, Hilda M
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This dissertation tests the hypothesis that more educated speakers produce more syntactically complex oral narratives than less educated speakers. In this context syntactic complexity is defined as the greater use of subordinate clauses than of independent and coordinate clauses while, conversely, syntactic simplicity is defined as the greater use of independent and coordinate clauses. In order to test this hypothesis 46 Mexican women residing in Athens, Georgia produced narratives by retelling a short film known as The Pear Film. The participants belonged to one of four educational levels determined by the highest level of schooling they had completed in Mexico: 7 women were in the elementary group, 15 in the secondary group, 14 in the preparatory group, and 10 in the university group. An analysis of the 2,812 clauses they produced shows that the speakers in the higher educational levels do use more subordination in their narratives than those in the lower groups.