Volume 12, Issue 1 (2021)                   LRR 2021, 12(1): 329-363 | Back to browse issues page

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Rostambeik Tafreshi A, Amiri M A. Bilingual Narrative Development in Mazandarani-Farsi Children. LRR 2021; 12 (1) :329-363
URL: http://lrr.modares.ac.ir/article-14-29938-en.html
1- Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies , A.Rostambeik@ihcs.ac.ir
2- Ph.D. Candidate in General Linguistics, Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies
Abstract:   (2807 Views)
Iran is a multicultural and multilingual country. Bilingualism has always been a matter of interest to the scholars in different fields like linguistics, psychology, and sociolinguistics. Studying the linguistic and cognitive features and the development of the two languages in bilingual children are of great importance in many regards like education, language development, and language planning. This study aims at analyzing Farsi and Mazandarani narratives of bilingual Mazandarani-Farsi children aged 4-6 in order to study the language development in these children according to age and to compare their development in each of these two languages. The narratives are analyzed at the micro and macro structure levels in four age groups: (A: 4-4.5; B: 4.5-5; C: 5-5.5; D: 5.5-6). The results show that the narratives get more complicated as the children grow and "age" has a significant effect on these categories at macro and microstructure levels: action, consequence, coordinating conjunction, and mental and verbal processes. Comparison of MLU and the total number of words in Farsi and Mazandarani narratives indicates that there is no significant difference between narratives according to age and the language.
1. Introduction
This research aims at analyzing narratives of Mazandarani-Farsi bilingual children in both languages (Mazandarani and Farsi) to study the effect of age, and language on children's performances regarding the complexity of narrative structure at macro and micro levels. Narrative analysis has been the center of attention in various linguistic studies on different target groups from different points of view, i.e. psycholinguistics, clinical linguistics, sociolinguistics, and functional linguistics, etc. on the other hand bilingualism has always attracted linguists interested in different subjects like the effect of bilingualism on education, or cognitive skills, etc. In this study, these two fields meet each other to help us find the answers to these research questions: what are the differences between Mazandarani, and Farsi narrative structures of Mazandarani-Farsi bilingual children at macro and micro levels? What is the effect of age on the complexity of bilingual children’s narratives in both languages?
2. Literature Review
Reviewing the literature of linguistic studies on bilingualism reveals that most of the researches aimed at studying the effects of bilingualism on education at the school level, some of such studies are as follows: Khanhasani (2011), Farazmand (2011), Asare and Bafti (2012), Keyvanlou and Meghdari (2012), Shiralipour, et al (2013), etc; but very few studies in Iran have focused on narratives of bilingual children: Eftekhari et al (2005) studied the effect of  Semnani language on the MLU of 6 year old bilingual children in comparison to monolingual children, and concluded that Semnani doesn’t have any negative effect on MLU. Elyasi, Sharifi & Karimipour (2013) studied the narratives of 4 Kurdi-Farsi bilingual children using a picture story for data collection (Frog Where Are You?) according to Berman and Slobin (1994) functional framework. They concluded that there are some differences in children’s performances in two languages regarding active and passive, and marked sentences. Rostambeik, Amiri, Enayati & Ramezani (2017) studied the complexity and length of narratives of students with and without learning disabilities and concluded that analyzing narratives is a useful method for studying and comparing language skills. Kamari (2016) studied cohesion in narratives of monolingual children aged 3-9 and concluded that after the age of 7 narratives are more complex. Studying the narrative structure of bilinguals has been the focus of many researches out of Iran. Some of the most related ones to this study are as follows: Berman and Slobin (1994); Gutiérrez-Clellen (2002), Minami (2005), Uccelli & Paez (2007), Chernobilsky (2009), Gagarina et al (2015), Bohnacker (2016).
3. Methodology
Using a descriptive-analytic method, this research analyzes the narratives of 16 Mazandarani-Farsi bilingual children, aged 4-6. Informants were selected from among the bilingual children in kindergartens of Juybar, a city in Mazandaran Province. Kindergartens were selected through random sampling, and children were chosen through targeted sampling considering age and being bilingual. Informants were classified into four age groups (A: 4-4.5; B: 4.5-5; C: 5-5.5; D: 5.5-6). Therefore, data included 32 narratives, 16 in Persian and 16 in Mazandarani. In addition to narrative structure, length of the narratives and MLU were analyzed and compared in narratives in both languages. SPSS version 25 is used to perform statistical analysis. For narration, a picture story named “Frog where are you?” (Mayer, 1969) was used. Each bilingual child once listened to the story in Mazandarani told by a native speaker of Mazandarani while looking at the picture book, and retold it in Mazandarani, and once in Farsi and retold it in Farsi. The narratives were analyzed regarding macro and micro narrative structures, based on Petersen, Gillam & Gillam (2008) framework.
4. Results
Mazandarani and Farsi narratives produced by children in four different age groups were analyzed at two levels: micro structure and macro structure. In this research macrostructure includes character, setting, internal response, plan, action, and consequence, and microstructure includes coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, verbal and mental processes, adverbs, and extended noun phrases. Considering the categories at each level, it is possible to say that the macrostructure level describes cognitive skills while microstructure level focuses more on linguistic features of the narratives. The results show that in all age groups the points the children got in macro structure analysis are higher in Farsi narratives. The points increase as the age increases, so from group A to group D, we witness a raise in the points the children got.  Also, at micro structure level children got more points in Farsi narratives. At this level also, older children got more points in Farsi narratives, but it is not the same for narratives in Mazandarani. The number of words of narratives in both languages increase as the age increases. Comparison of the MLU in narratives show that in both languages MLU is the highest in fourth group.
5. Discussion
According to the results, Mazandarani-Farsi bilingual children produced more complex narratives in Farsi comparing to Mazandarani. In Farsi narratives, in all groups, children got fewer points in internal response and plan categories, i.e. none of the children in groups A, C, and D referred to the feelings or emotions of the characters of the story. Also, none of the children in groups A and B referred to the plan. At the microstructure level, children didn't use subordinating conjunctions properly. The statistical analysis shows that age has a significant effect on children's narratives in Farsi. Analyzing the micro and macrostructure in Mazandarani narratives shows that none of the children referred to the internal response of the characters, and they also got fewer points in the category of plan, and they also didn't use subordinating conjunctions and adverbs properly. The statistical comparison between the narratives in Farsi and Mazandarani regarding macro and microstructure shows that at macro level the difference in the categories of action and consequence is meaningful and at the microstructure level the difference in the use of mental and verbal verbs and coordinating conjunctions are significant. In general, the difference in the total points that the children got in narrative structure analysis in Farsi and Mazandarani is statistically significant.
6. Conclusion
The results show that the narratives get more complex as the children grow and “age” has a significant effect on these categories at macro and microstructure levels: action, consequence, coordinating conjunction, and mental and verbal processes. In fact, children were not that successful in more complex cognitive skills like referring to characters’ feeling or plans. They also didn’t use conjunctions properly to make complex sentences. The comparison of MLU and the total number of words in Farsi and Mazandarani narratives indicates that the effect of age and language on these categories are not statistically significant. Bilingual children performed better at the macrostructure level in both languages. The comparison of the number of words and MLU in Farsi and Mazandarani shows no significant difference. On the other hand, although the length of the narratives increases as the age increases the effect of age on narrative length is not statistically significant. Based on the results, narrative analysis can reveal interesting linguistic and cognitive skills of bilingual children. In the case of Mazandarani –Farsi bilinguals, it seems that children generally perform better in Farsi than Mazandarani which is probably the result of Farsi dominance in that area.

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Article Type: مقالات علمی پژوهشی | Subject: Linguistics
Published: 2021/03/21

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