a1 Mount Saint Vincent University
a2 City University of New York
Previous studies have reported systematic individual differences among children in their noun and pronoun use. This study examined mothers' use of nouns and pronouns and their references to objects and persons as environmental variables which might relate to children's nominal preferences. Mothers' speech to children classified as referential or expressive in speech style (Nelson 1973) at low and high MLU levels (Nelson 1975) was analysed, and differences relating to children's style and MLU were reported. Results showed no relationship between mothers' use of nouns or pronouns and children's speech style, but did show that mothers' references to objects and persons were related to children's style. These findings are the strongest evidence to date that environmental factors contribute to stylistic differences in language acquisition, and also give support to Nelson's (1973) hypothesis that the communicative functions of language are an important factor in referential and expressive speech styles.
(Received May 14 1983)
[*] The authors wish to thank Patricia James for comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript and figure construction. Address for correspondence: David Furrow, Department of Psychology, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, N.S., Canada B3M 2J6.